BOSTON (WHDH) — A new study from the Boston University School of Medicine reveals the dangers of youth football and the risk of brain damage in children.

According to the study, children who start tackle football at a younger age can see symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, show up earlier. The study compared repeated hits to the head, even mild ones that do not result in a concussion, to being exposed to lead at a young age.

Dr. Michael Alosco said they studied the brains of more than 200 former football players diagnosed with CTE after they died. They also spoke to the players’ families and learned that those who played tackle football before they were teenagers showed symptoms of brain damage 13 years earlier than those who started when they were older.

The study supports the idea that children should not play tackle football before their teens. However, Alosco said research is ongoing.

“Going forward, we’re going to continue to tease apart the risk factors and see who may or may not be at risk for CTE,” said Alosco.

Alosco said the reason they specifically focus on 12 years of age is because the years before that are very crucial to brain development.

Scott Moses, the vice president of Charlestown Youth Football, thinks studying only 200 former football players is not a fair representation.

“If they included other variables, other things like drug use, to the study, then I’d be more comfortable saying kids shouldn’t play tackle football,” said Moses.

Moses said Charlestown Youth Football has taken steps to ensure the safety of its players, like reducing contacts. He said they respect the studies but they are not ready to end tackle football.

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