Beware of high-level sport in adolescents

Beyond 15 hours of training per week, girls are at risk of slowing growth, menstrual cycle disorders, anorexia ... Deleterious effects to monitor, according to a report of the Academy of Medicine.

By Sandrine Cabut Posted today at 06:00

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Ten thousand steps and more. Gymnasts, dancers, figure skaters or synchronized swimmers, are young athletes fairly well trained in medicine and nutrition? Probably not, says a recent report of the Academy of Medicine that points to the consequences of the high-level sports practice of adolescent girls on growth, puberty and osteoarticular development.

A working group of about twenty members focused on what he calls the sports of appearance or silhouette, that is to say the disciplines (above-mentioned) in which the performance is favored by the small size or the low weight. The intensive practice of tennis, endurance activities, such as cross-country running, or weight-class sports can run the same risks, specify the authors.

In the general population, the main concern is how to move teenagers and especially teenagers. Only 20% of girls aged 11 to 14 reach the recommended threshold of 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and the proportion drops to 15% among 15-17 year olds, according to the Esteban (2015) study. The situation is a little less critical for boys, with one-third and 40% respectively.

Nothing to do with girls who train more than 20 or even 30 hours a week. "Whether endurance, resistance or explosive sports, there is a high level of energy expenditure that is often associated with a limitation or even a lack of nutritional intake.says the report. In girls, the extreme caricatural consequences are the triad of the athlete: anorexia, amenorrhea, osteoporosis. " The danger exists especially for energetic contributions lower than 1000 kcal / d, with less than 12% to 15% of lipids.

Slow growth

According to the scientific literature, the complete triad would be infrequent, unlike the partial forms. Menstrual disorders and isolated amenorrhea would affect 30% to 50% of young female athletes, eating disorders 35%, and fractures 30%. Musculoskeletal injuries, which vary by discipline, could be up to 60%.

As for the growth of young female gymnastics or other figure sports, it would be slowed beyond 15 hours of training each week. For example, a 1990 Swiss study of 12-year-old girls showed that the peak height growth was 5.48 cm / year among gymnasts, compared to 8 among swimmers.