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Study: Non-Concussion Head Hits During Football, Soccer Games Cause Long-Term Problems

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File photo of children playing soccer. (credit: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of children playing soccer. (credit: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS Connecticut) – Parents beware: Minor hits sustained during the course of a football or soccer season can produce to long-term thinking and memory problems.

New research from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that football players who didn’t suffer concussions but who were hit in the head multiple times during a season had higher levels of a protein that leaks from the brain into the blood stream, causing potentially dangerous long-term effects.

“The body has never seen these proteins before, so it forms antibodies against it, just like if it were a virus,” Dr. Jeff Bazarian, lead researcher of the University of Rochester study, told NBC Charlotte.

The study involved blood samples from 67 college football players both before and after they had played games.

Given the fact that previous research found that football and soccer players suffer between 70 to 100 minor hits to the head during the course of just one game, the long-term effects outlined in the Rochester study are frightening.

“The next thing that we think happens is when that blood brain barrier opens up again with the next hit,” Bazarian said, adding that the body treats the protein in the blood stream as a danger. “We think those antibodies now go back to the brain and attack.”

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