Also, in mass screenings -- where kids line up and are screened quickly -- accuracy may suffer, said Washington, the Denver pediatric cardiologist. "A good, thorough ultrasound should take a half-hour," he said. "If you line up all the kids [at a school or on a team] to have a portable ultrasound, you will miss some of these subtle abnormalities."
But Sharon Bates, a parent who founded the Anthony Bates Foundation after her athlete son, Anthony, died unexpectedly in 2000 and was found to have had an enlarged heart, disagrees with the arguments against mass screenings.
Even if a problem picked up is minor, she said, you have a right to know, and it needs to be addressed.
Bates's son had passed the typical pre-athletic physical with flying colors, she said, yet he still had a major cardiac problem.
Her Phoenix-based foundation promotes universal screenings for all youth, not just athletes, she said.
As Abraham said, "What is the price for a single life?"
The Nemours Foundation has information for kids on sports physicals.
SOURCES: Paul Thompson, M.D., director, preventive cardiology, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, Conn.; Reginald Washington, M.D., pediatric cardiologist and chief medical officer, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Denver; Sharon Bates, founder and chief executive, Anthony Bates Foundation, Phoenix; May 2007, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; Nov. 11, 2009, news release, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore; March 2, 2010, Annals of Internal Medicine
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