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Children with One Kidney Can Play Sports: Study

Update Date: Jun 18, 2012 09:49 PM EDT

Children born with one kidney are often advised by doctors not to play sports, since there is fear that if they sustain an injury to the organ, they might need lifelong dialysis.

However, those beliefs can be left behind, since the result of the analysis of a large database of sports-related injuries among varsity-level high school athletes showed that only 18 cases involved kidney injury.

Or in other words, there was 1 kidney injury per one million times when an athlete hit the playing field.

"Even in the highest-risk group, kidney injury is a very rare condition," said Dr. Matthew Grinsell of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

"Especially with today's obesity epidemic, I am very, very reluctant to counsel somebody against physical activity," he told Reuters Health

An analysis was done by the researchers on data from the National Athletic Trainers' Association High School Injury Surveillance Study from 1995 to 1997.

The results revealed that even when athletes injured their kidneys, it was mostly a bruise and none of the injuries were serious enough to need a transplant.  Also, the ratio of head injuries to Kidney was found to be 67:1.

"We know that kidney injuries from traffic accidents are two to 10 times more common than kidney injuries from sports," Grinsell explained. "Some people have argued it might actually be more dangerous to drive to your doctor to talk about kidney injuries from sports than actually playing sports."

Grinsell however advised that it is important to make sure that children with one kidney have their organ functioning normally and that their blood pressure is not too high before sending them onto the field.

"If somebody has a passion, I really don't limit it," said Grinsell. "I push the more general safety issues, like wearing a helmet if you are a bicyclist."

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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