The number of serious knee injuries that doctors once saw only in adults is skyrocketing among children as kid sports become increasingly demanding, reports the New York Times. Injuries such as a torn ACL—the major ligament that stabilizes the knee—require surgery that poses particular risks to children who are still growing, according to experts. As many as eight times as many girls suffer ACL tears than boys, physicians report.
A key factor is the increasingly competitive world of kid sports and its long hours of rigorous workouts and games. Top child athletes play year-round on multiple teams with frequent games. “The kids are playing at really highly competitive levels at earlier and earlier ages,” said one doctor. Surgery to repair problems like a torn ACL can affect the way a limb develops—and could raise the risk of arthritis, say doctors.