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Teen Girls Say Their Breasts Sideline Them from Playing Sports

The Short of It

A new study out of England published in the "Journal of Adolescent Health" finds teen girls are avoiding playing sports over concerns about their breasts.

The Lowdown

Half of the females in high schools in Britain are not playing sports because they have worries about their breasts, which are likely new developments, so to speak, for many.

This is the startling conclusion researchers arrived at after surveying more than 2,000 would-be girl athletes between the ages of 11 and 17. It's estimated 90 percent of 14-year-old girls in Britain do not get enough exercise so clearly that breasts prevent participation in sports is particularly troublesome. One can only assume with the obesity crisis in the United States, our statistics would mirror theirs.

"Previous studies of adult women have shown time and again that the same concerns are directly responsible for women no longer taking part in sport or exercise," says study author Joanna Scurr from the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth. "What makes this worse is, as scientists, we know proper breast support reduces or even eliminates the problems associated with breast movement during sport. All that is needed is better education, preferably at puberty for all girls."

Due to what is presumably a lack of education about such things, three-quarters of survey participants admitted to having sports-related concerns over pain or embarrassment due to their breasts. Interestingly, more than half confessed they don't wear sports bras to play sports. This was attributed to most participants not knowing what kind of bra to wear or what the fit should be. Researchers note these anxieties are most acute at the age of 14.

Other findings from the study include:

  • Nine out of 10 expressed an interest in knowing more about breast health and support.
  • Fifteen percent thought their breasts were too big for them to play sports.
  • Those with larger chests of a D-cup or bigger were less likely to play sports than those with smaller chests.

The Upshot

As a mom-of-three daughters, I found this study to be of particular interest. Clearly, parents need to be involved in educating girls about proper breast support during exercise. I'd hate to think any aspect of any of my daughters' bodies would prevent them from playing sports if that is what they wanted to do.

A big part of the equation is maintaining an open relationship with your daughter so she feels comfortable coming to you for advice on sensitive topics during puberty, like breast support for exercise. I plan to do everything I can so my daughters won't hesitate to seek my council on this, or any other matter, as they mature.

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