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Couture for Athletes: What to Wear When Playing It Safe

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Ice skating, rollerskating, or inline skating: "For any type of skating, your child needs properly sized skates that fit like a shoe with a thumbnail's width from the end of the toe to the end of the skate," Maharam says. "Rollerbladers must wear a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and hip pads." The AAPD recommends mouth guards.

Soccer: "Knee pads and shin guards are important for soccer players," Maharam says. "Some people say helmets are a good idea because the constant heading of the ball may cause mild brain injury." The AAP recommends sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses, and the AAPD recommends mouth guards.

Football: "Football players should be protected from top to bottom -- starting with a helmet with a polycarbonate shield and ending with hip padding," Maharam says. The AAPD recommends mouth guards.

Biking: "All bikers need helmets; it's the law," Maharam says, though laws differ from state to state. "They should also have an appropriately sized bike with padding on the center bar." Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85% and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88%, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. About 75% of bicycle-related fatalities among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet. The AAPD recommends that all bikers be fitted for a mouth guard.

Most protective equipment is available through schools or at a sporting goods store.

"It's also important that adults supervise children playing sports and where they play them to avoid any accidents related to poor playing conditions," Maharam says.

For more information on children's sports safety, contact the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation at: http://www.nyssf.org

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