Nightly News   |  June 12, 2012

Pop Warner issues new safety regulations

The organization’s concussion awareness initiative would limit the amount of time spent in contact with another player, and bans head-to-head hits. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're breaking astory here tonight that's going to be a game changer on a lot of local playing fields . pop warner football , the largest youth football organization in the world is rewriting its rule book to try to protect the kids who play all across this country. and our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman has exclusive details.

>> reporter: for this family, pop warner is a big part of life. 8-year-old anthony plays football. sister maddie is a pop warner cheerleader. dad matt, a coach. and his wife roberta a spirit squad leader. they joined in part because of the organization's safety philosophy. when in doubt, sit it out. and say the new regulations bring even more reassurance.

>> it's a sense of comfort knowing that he's not going to get hit all the time.

>> reporter: the group's executive director says safety comes first now, but admits things weren't always that way.

>> i think particularly with with concussions, so much of it was just a lack of awareness. you got your bell rung. you got dinged, get back in the game.

>> reporter: more head injuries actually occur during practice than in games. that's why the organization has created a concussion awareness initiative. most kids practice nine hours a week, the new guidelines would with mean that only one with third of that time could be spent the in contact with another player. no head to head hits, and tackling must be initiated within the three foot zone. children's brains are especially vulnerable.

>> players who get a second, third, fourth concussion really can have a detrimental effects and have a degradation in their function. you weren't knocked out, were you?

>> reporter: that's why doctors are keeping close eyes on kids like 10-year-old dominick hollister. he's had three concussions and now wears a special helmet on the field and gets regular checkups. there are more than 4 million sports related concussions in the united states each year, and football accounts for more than half of those. so a call today. a lot of people are going to be surprised tomorrow, brian about these new recommendations. i think it's going to change how little kids learn how to play football.

>> this is going to be a big deal across the country. another big deal for post menopausal women taking vitamin d supplements and calcium.

>> this is going to confuse some people. the united states task force has said that vitamin d and calcium supplements in the normal doses that are prescribed do not really prevent osteoporosis breaks and fractures. there's not enough evidence to recommend that people take them in routine dosages. they are saying, the higher dosages for women over the age of 65, the jury is still out. the down side is, kidney stones , heart problems, there's just not enough proof to show that it works and that it's worth it.

>> the bottom line as always, consult your doctor, which we just did. nancy, thank you