This article proposes simple medical criteria that can be used by trainers and others for effective medical supervision of young female athletes.

METHODS: The cross-sectional, age-stratified study compared girls 10-17 years of age involved in intensive training in gymnastic floor exercises, trampoline, or badminton. Each sport and/or control group was represented by 40-45 girls. Data included medical history, morphometric variables and observation of biological development.

RESULTS: Gymnasts started training earliest (approximately 5-years-old) and trained most intensely (18-20 h/wk), followed by trampolinists and then badmintonists. Height, weight, body mass index, and % body fat were reduced in athletes, with gymnasts showing the greatest reduction. Athletes showed higher ratios of leg length to height and shoulder width/hip width, and smaller pelvic size compared to height. The average age of menarche of gymnasts was 13.8 (1.6 year later than controls). Delays of biological development of more than 2 years were common in athletes, and some gymnasts showed more than a 4-year delay. These delays were related to morphometric indicators of hormonal imbalance and to low body fat. Gymnasts had more childhood diseases, with an infection index of 2.8 compared to 1.1 for the control group, and had a higher level of chronic ENT problems.

CONCLUSIONS: Trainers need to protect the health of athletes. During the course of training, anamneses, delayed menarche and other signs of delayed biological development must be monitored. Morphometric measures and indicators of biological development are proposed to provide simple criteria important in protecting the athletes' health.

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Published in International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, v. 20, no. 3, p. 343-351.

© Freund Publishing House Ltd.

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