Background: As soccer participation in the United States increases, so does the number of children at risk for injury.
Purpose: To examine pediatric soccer-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments from 1990 to 2003.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: A descriptive analysis of nationally representative, pediatric, soccer-related injury data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
Results: Among those 2 to 18 years of age, a nationally estimated 1597528 soccer-related injuries presented to US emergency departments from 1990 to 2003. Mean age was 13.2 years (range, 2-18 years); 58.6% were male. From 1990 to 2003, there was an increase in the absolute number of injuries among girls (P < .0001). The wrist/finger/hand (20.3%), ankle (18.2%), and knee (11.4%) were the most commonly injured body parts. The most common diagnoses were sprain/strain (35.9%), contusion/abrasion (24.1%), and fracture (23.2%). Boys were more likely to have face and head/neck injuries (17.7%; relative risk, 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.32-1.49; P < .01) and lacerations/punctures (7.5%; relative risk, 3.31; 95% confidence interval, 2.93-3.74; P < .01) than were girls (12.7% and 2.3%, respectively). Girls were more likely to have ankle injuries (21.8%; relative risk, 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.33-1.45; P < .01) and knee injuries (12.9%; relative risk, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-1.35; P < .01) than were boys (15.7% and 10.4%, respectively). Girls were more likely to have sprains or strains (42.4%) than were boys (31.3%; relative risk, 1.36; 95% confidence interval, 1.31-1.40; P < .01). Children 2 to 4 years old sustained a higher proportion of face and head/neck injuries (41.0%) than did older children (15.5%; relative risk, 2.65; 95% confidence interval, 2.09-3.36; P < .01).
Conclusion: When comparing these data to available national statistics that estimate participation in youth soccer, true injury rates may actually be decreasing for boys and girls. Young children should be closely supervised because of risk of head injuries and rate of hospitalization. The establishment of a national database of soccer participation and injury data is needed to better identify injury risks.