Medical Concerns of the Young Female Athlete - report from the American Academy of Pediatrics Commit

Author: Monica Preboth
Date: March 15, 2001

The Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a position statement on medical concerns of the female athlete. The statement appears in the September 2000 issue of Pediatrics.

According to the AAP committee, young female athletes who are regular participants in sports may develop certain medical conditions, such as eating disorders, menstrual dysfunction and decreased bone mineral density. This revision of a previous AAP statement provides updated and expanded information for physicians on health concerns of the young female athlete. The statement discusses disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, decreased bone mineral density, clinical evaluation and treatment. The AAP committee also makes the following recommendations:

* Exercise and participation in sports should be encouraged among girls and female adolescents for health benefits and enjoyment.

* Dietary practices; exercise intensity, duration and frequency; and menstrual history should be reviewed during evaluations that precede participation in sports or other medical encounters in which related problems may present.

* Amenorrhea should not be considered a normal response to exercise. A complete medical evaluation is required for any adolescent with primary or secondary amenorrhea or persistent oligomenorrhea.

* Disordered eating should be considered in adolescents with amenorrhea. Treatment often requires a team of health care professionals, including a physician, nutritionist and mental health professional, in addition to the cooperation of coaches, parents and teammates.

* Athletes, parents and coaches should receive education and counseling on eating disorders, menstrual dysfunction, decreased bone mineralization, and adequate calorie and nutrient intake to meet energy expenditure and maintain normal growth and development.

* When athletes and coaches want to know what weight and amount of body fat are best for a given athlete, it is preferable to establish a range of values rather than specific values. Defining a specific ideal weight or body fat level is difficult and potentially dangerous.

* An adolescent with menstrual dysfunction attributed to exercise should be encouraged to increase her caloric intake and modify excessive exercise. If an athlete's weight is low, she may be required to gain weight before resuming athletic activity.

* Estrogen-progesterone supplementation may be considered in the mature amenorrheic athlete.

* Measurement of bone mineral density may be considered as a tool when making treatment decisions for the amenorrheic athlete.

COPYRIGHT 2001 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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