THURSDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Shortfalls in the
screening of female college athletes for a trio of medical issues
called the "female athlete triad" could put them at risk for
lifelong health problems, according to a new study.
The triad refers to the interrelationship between energy
availability, menstrual function and bone mineral density. Research
has shown that many female athletes do not take in enough
nutrition, which leads to the absence of menstrual periods, and
loss of bone density and strength.
Medical College of Wisconsin researchers surveyed 257 NCAA
Division I universities to find out when and how often athletes
underwent physical examinations and had their health histories
checked. The researchers also evaluated the pre-participation
examination forms used to further assess athletes' health.
Sixty-three percent of the university athletic programs only
completed a full medical history and examination on freshmen and
transfer athletes, instead of on all athletes every year or every
Only 9 percent of the universities had nine or more of the 12
Female Athlete Triad Coalition screening recommendations on their
pre-participation exam forms, the investigators found.
"For an accurate picture, these forms really need to include a
72-hour food record to measure energy intake," corresponding author
Dr. Anne Hoch, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the
women's sports medicine program, said in a Medical College of
Wisconsin news release.
"An exercise history or an accelerometer, which is an
inexpensive way to measure energy expenditure, is also helpful.
These screening tools may result in early identification of
athletes at risk for the triad," she added.
Further research is required to determine the most sensitive and
specific items to include on a screening tool for the Female
Athlete Triad, the researchers suggested.
The study was published in a recent online edition of the
Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.
The Nemours Foundation has more about the
female athlete triad.
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