Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to request a briefing on the efforts CDC is taking to educate the public and prevent heat illnesses among youth athletes. Pallone’s letter comes in the wake of several of these avoidable tragedies, including one affecting a family in his home state of New Jersey.
Exertional heat illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and exertional heat stroke are a concern for many parents and youth athletes, especially in the spring and summer months. More than 9,000 high school athletes are treated for heat illnesses each year, and hundreds more heat illness events are reported in collegiate athletics. Although exertional heat stroke is preventable and has a lower prevalence than other heat illnesses, it is responsible for two percent of sport-related deaths, and 15 percent of all football deaths annually.
“I am concerned that players, coaches, trainers, and other athletics staff may not be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, nor may they know how to treat heat-related illnesses when they occur. As a result, athletes may be exposed or suffer from heat-related illnesses that may be preventable,” Pallone wrote. “As we approach the summer months, when many of these incidents occur, I ask that you provide me information about CDC’s current activities related to promoting prevention and treatment techniques to youth and student players, coaches, trainers, and other athletics staff. I also request that you conduct a review of the CDC’s current activities and provide the Committee an analysis of what additional efforts may be helpful for CDC or other government bodies to consider to prevent further tragedies going forward.”
In August 2018, Braeden Bradforth, a New Jersey resident and gifted athlete, died tragically on the campus of Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he was recruited to play football. An autopsy revealed that his death was due to exertional heat stroke, which he suffered after an evening football practice.
“While a full investigation of the events surrounding Braeden’s tragic and untimely death must be conducted, we know deaths from heat-related illnesses are preventable. We should not waste any time in working to ensure that another family does not suffer a loss like the one the Bradforth family has endured,” Pallone continued in his letter to CDC. “I appreciate that CDC has published tips and warnings for athletes in extreme heat, however the repeated examples of deaths from heat-related illnesses remains troubling.”
Pallone requested the briefing from CDC by May 20.
Click HERE to read the full letter.
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