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Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(11):1896-1897

Family physicians are often called on to evaluate children's sports participation eligibility. This process requires a knowledge of the type of sport in question (how strenuous it is and its level of physical contact?) and medical conditions that the child may have. Most children with chronic illnesses will have no difficulty participating in most sports, but clinical judgment is required to make that assessment. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness updated previous policies about sports participation. The update is accompanied by a table that helps explain the impact of 35 medical conditions on sports participation.

The update is based on current information and expert opinion, and assumes that the physician has knowledge of the athlete's health, level of competition, maturity, and use of protective equipment, the availability of rapid treatment if an injury should occur, and the child's and parent/guardian's understanding of the risks.

In some cases (e.g., if the child has more than just a mild congenital heart condition), consultation with a specialist is necessary before a decision can be reached about sports participation. If the athlete or parent/guardian decides to ignore the physician's advice to refrain from sports participation, this decision should be documented, with the child's and/or parent/guardian's signature, in the child's medical record.

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