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Phys Sportsmed. 2001 Jul;29(7):41-8. doi: 10.3810/psm.2001.07.874.

Injuries in little league baseball from 1987 through 1996: implications for prevention.

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Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-8700, USA.


Baseball is a very popular team sport in the United States, but there has been concern with the number of injuries and fatalities.


This study describes the incidence of injuries to Little League Baseball, Inc, players from 5 to 12 years old from 1987 through 1996.


Descriptive statistical analyses of injuries derived from Little League Baseball, Inc, insurance data from 17,221,210 player-years of follow-up in the 10-year study period. An average of 1,722,121 children participated every year.


During the study, there were 29,038 injuries and an injury rate of 1.69 injuries per 1,000 participants per season. Ball-related injuries totaled 15,266, and batters had the greatest number of ball injuries. There were 12,306 facial and teeth injuries, mostly in defensive players. Sliding was associated with 60% of the injuries to base runners. Approximately 25% of the injuries were considered severe (fractures, dislocations, and concussions), and 13 players died.


Based on the data, youth baseball appears to be a very safe sport, but there are areas where injury prevention is possible. Data and additional attention are needed concerning face mask use for players in the field, modified balls for minimizing contact injuries, education on sliding technique, and use of safety bases for runners.


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