Participating in sports is a great way for children to learn about cooperation and competition, and to build strong, healthy bodies.
However, involvement in sports does have risks. American Bone Health has identified Athletic Energy Deficit (AED) as a serious condition that affects young athletes. When athletes who do sports that require lots of exertion do not eat enough to keep up the level of energy they need, there can be serious consequences on developing bone.
The “red flag” for young female athletes is the delay or loss of the menstrual cycle. This signals that estrogen, an important hormone for bone development, is compromised. Parents and coaches must be aware of AED and ensure that their daughters are getting enough nutrition to be competitive and recover quickly from the exertion of their sports.
Here is a helpful pre-sports questionnaire that doctors can use to better understand their athletes, especially those who might be at risk for AED. The answers to the questions can guide doctors to:
- Take a more complete medical history
- Do a more thorough physical examination
- Order appropriate lab tests
Children who are involved in sports should be seen by a healthcare provider before they begin an athletic season. We encourage their parents and coaches to learn more about athletic energy deficit and take measures to prevent it in their athletes.