(KMOV.com) - A study from Boston University is raising new concerns about kids playing football. It measured, for the first time, the relationship between years playing tackle football and the risking of developing CTE.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a brain disease caused by repeated head injuries. The study found high school football players who started tackle at age 5 versus age 14 will have 10 times the risk of developing CTE.
The study also found the number of concussions was not a factor. The increased risk of CTE, according to the study, was based solely of the amount of years spent playing.
Concussion Legacy Foundation, a group based out of Boston, released a video inspired by the study that compares the risk of kids playing tackle football to smoking cigarettes. In a new public service announcement, the group says kids under 14 should play flag football.
“Oh, I totally agree with that because the chances when you get football of getting CTE is there just the same as smoking," said Marian Baker.
Baker's son, Curtis Brown, died in 2015. He started playing football around age 7 and played through college. He even played in the NFL for several years.
He died from a heart attack in 2015 at age 60, though his mom says doctors also found he had stage 4 CTE. Baker says Curtis began losing his memory around age 50, which she believes was an early symptom of CTE.
“As far as my family, we are not gonna play football again and I wouldn’t encourage anybody to let their son play," said Baker.
Some Missouri schools, including SLU High School, have made changes recently to equipment players use. SLU High School now uses helmets that are top-rated in the pros and are proven to reduce impact on the head.
A local youth football coach calls the Boston University study 'drastic' and says when the younger kids start playing football the more they will know about how to protect themselves on the field. The coach says it's all about the gear players wear.