By Fatih Erel
ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkish doctors put their weight behind the recent ban on heading the football in training sessions of children under 12.
In 2020 so far, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland banned children under 12 years old from heading the football during training.
There had already been a ban on heading the football for kids aged under 11 in the U.S.
The headers will be banned in practice or training sessions but children will be allowed to use their heads during matches.
The new guidelines have been in practice as of this February.
"Heading football in early ages may cause severe brain damage and cerebral hemorrhage," Prof. Dr. Mustafa Bozbuga, a neurosurgeon in NP ISTANBUL Brain Hospital, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
"There may be neurocognitive brain damage which can cause losing the important brain functions," he added.
"In long term, kids' hitting the ball with their heads may cause dementia, degenerative brain diseases and high brain function impairment," Bozbuga said.
The reports have shown that ex-footballers are more likely to die of dementia.
A study released in October 2019 reported the links between former footballers and brain disease.
According to the report, football players could be three and a half times more likely to die of dementia.
The decision to ban heading the football has been based on scientific publications in recent years, according to Bozbuga.
"I support the prohibitory reports on this subject, as it is a scientifically demonstrated fact that there can be serious brain damage and loss of function with heading football constantly for a long time," he said.
"I think Turkey should also take a similar decision as I find it right to ban children under the age of 12 from hitting the ball with head in football practice.
"I have seen acute (early) and chronic (long-term) brain hemorrhages due to brain damage related to heading the football," he added.
- ‘We must protect children from head injury’
Prof. Dr. Fahrettin Kelestemur, an endocrinology specialist and medical coordinator of Yeditepe University Hospital, also said: “The negative effects of head traumas especially on the hormonal system in childhood and adults have been demonstrated by scientific studies."
"The most important causes of head injuries are traffic accidents, falls and violent practices. Also, sports injuries have been shown to cause brain damage and hormonal disorders in recent years," Kelestemur said.
"Hormonal deficiencies also lead to neuro-psychiatric findings such as depression, social isolation, memory disorders. It is very important to replace the missing hormone in patients with hormone deficiency. Early diagnosis is essential in order not to be late in treatment. We should protect every age group and especially children from head trauma," he added.
- ‘Children constantly playing football at risk’
Assoc. Prof. Burcu Ormeci, a neurology specialist at the Yeditepe University Kosuyolu Hospital, also said: “Hitting the ball with the head while playing football on the street once or twice a week does not lead to this. What we want to explain here is that the children who are constantly training and playing football are at risk."
"In the future, most likely, studies in this area will increase and we will be able to achieve clear results," she added.
According to neurologists, dementia or the loss of memory will become the principal health hazard in the next century, keeping in view the rising incidences of the disease.
Currently 50 million people in the world suffer from the disease, and the number is expected to triple by 2050.