"Its not widely accepted at the high school level to wear that type of protective equipment, although we know mouth guards are effective, and they're widely available," Collins said.
It's not clear why baseball players don't use better protective equipment now, Collins said. "We really need to do more research to see if it's just that people don't know the risks of these types of injures, or they're unaware that mouth guards or face guards could prevent these, or if it's the culture of the sport. We realize that would be very difficult to change."
The findings are published in the June issue of Pediatrics.
Dr. James Linakis, associate director of pediatric emergency medicine at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I., said, "The recommendations regarding face protection cannot be emphasized strongly enough."
"As a pediatric emergency physician, one of the most common baseball injuries that I see is eye injuries from batted or thrown balls, and dental injuries are also quite common. These injuries have the potential of being serious or even permanently disabling, yet they could be easily prevented," he said.
Children should begin using equipment to protect the head and face early on, Linakis said. "If we insist that young athletes wear facial protection from the time that they play T-ball, it will be second nature to them by the time they reach high school and college."
Learn more about baseball injuries from the National Athletic Trainers Association.
SOURCES: Christy L. Collins, MA, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; James G. Linakis, M.D., Ph.D., associate director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, physician researcher
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