On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an updated guide that encourages children and teens to wear face masks in most youth sports.
” Face masks made of fabric have been shown to reduce the transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2; therefore, AAP encourages athletes to wear them at all times during group training, competitions and on the sidelines,” the organization wrote.
Previously, the AAP had recommended that face masks should only be worn by athletes on the sidelines and “during less strenuous activities.
Despite the latest guidelines, AAP determined that children and teens participating in activities such as cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming and diving should not wear face masks because they could inadvertently impair vision and pose a choking hazard.
For water sports, the updated guidance stated that “a wet sling face mask may be more difficult to breathe”.
While the use of face masks is recommended for youth sports, the guideline states that the use of masks on the sidelines and during training and the practice of social distancing measures should continue.
Dr. Susannah Briskin, author of the guideline and a specialist in pediatric sports medicine, said: “Research shows that we can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission with fabric masks that completely cover the nose and mouth and that are seamlessly attached to the sides.
According to the AAP, there are approximately 35 to 45 million children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18 who engage in some form of youth sports, and the release of this updated guide may help to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19.
In an e-mail sent to Washington Newsday, Briskin continued, “This guide is intended for pediatricians to provide their patients with the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“In addition, I strongly believe that all schools, youth sports organizations and institutions that host youth sports should read the latest guidelines and implement the ‘strong recommendation’ for the use of an indoor sports face cover,” Briskin said.
Briskin explained that the goal of using masks in sports is to slow down the spread of the corona virus.
“I think it’s important to emphasize – this is a normal cloth face mask like all our kids wear at school,” Briskin told Washington Newsday. “Individuals can do a few practice sessions and experiment with different face masks to feel comfortable in a particular one. This is no different than when we all started wearing masks in public. It takes some getting used to. But people can comfortably train with a textile face cover and possibly influence the spread of COVID.
The updated guide will be published as cases of the novel virus have continued to rise in the United States.
AAP data show that by November 26, at least 1,337,217 children had tested positive for the new coronavirus, representing about 12 percent of all COVID 19 cases in the United States. The data also show that at least 153,608 new child cases were reported compared to the previous week, which ended November 19.
Over a two-week period from November 11 to November 26, AAP data show a 29 percent increase in COVID-19 cases among children.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 14.2 million cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 277,412 deaths.