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AAP Recommends Allowing Youth with Solitary Kidneys to Participate in Contact Sports

New AAP RecommendationsAre children and adults who have only one kidney at greater risk for injury during contact sports?

“Leagues used to impose strict rules regarding single-organ athletes who played contact sports,” said Dr. Danielle Bass, M.D., sports medicine specialist with the Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss. “Athletes with only one kidney were excluded from contact sports in order to prevent injury or the potential loss of their single kidney.”

Recommendations changed, though, when a recent article analyzed injury rates. “Sports-Related Kidney Injury Among High School Athletes” appeared in the medical journal Pediatrics, and pulled data from the National Athletic Trainer’s Association High School Injury Surveillance System.

In contact sports, kidney injuries were significantly lower compared to injuries of other body parts, such as the knee, spine and head. Out of 23,666 reported injuries, only 18 involved the kidneys; none was catastrophic or required surgery.

Because this report highlights that the risk of kidney injury is low, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) switched its official recommendation to a “qualified yes” for young athletes with a single kidney. That qualification must come from the athlete’s physician, following an evaluation. The physician also must discuss the risk of playing contact sports.

For more information, contact any of our Sports Medicine experts via, or visit the AAP online at

PEDIATRICS, Vol. 130,  No. 1,  July 1, 2012,  pp. e40 -e45

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