American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
AMSSM Statement on Sickle Cell Trait
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Jan. 26, 2012)
LEAWOOD, Kan. - On January 26, 2012, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) released a position statement calling for the reversal of the 2010 NCAA policy for mandatory screening of all Division I athletes for sickle cell trait (SCT).
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) is a multi-disciplinary organization of sports medicine physicians whose members are dedicated to education, research, advocacy, and the care of athletes of all ages. AMSSM members are closely involved in the medical care of collegiate athletes and many carry out the responsibilities of a team physician. AMSSM acknowledges the issues raised in the ASH statement, as well as the safety concerns that prompted the NCAA to move forward with its policy recommendation.
SCT has been associated with cases of exertional sudden death in NCAA athletes, in particular in African American football players. While rare, these tragic deaths appear to be largely preventable through education, implementation of safety guidance on heat acclimatization and hydration, adherence to appropriate strength and conditioning programs, and effective emergency action planning. Team physicians play a key role in educating athletes, coaches, and college medical staff regarding safety precautions in athletes with SCT, as well as other conditions that may affect safe participation.
The AMSSM notes that the NCAA policy provides all athletes with education on SCT as well as the option to opt out of the process of screening, without any penalty to participation. The AMSSM also agrees with ASH in supporting universal preventive measures to make participation in sports safer for all athletes. We strongly support increased laboratory and clinical research to promote evidence-based practice in this complex and controversial area.
The AMSSM looks forward to working with both the NCAA and ASH on this important issue. As a leading sports medicine organization, AMSSM is fully committed to protecting the health and safety of college athletes.
NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 4000 W. 114th St., Suite 100, Leawood, KS 66211, (913) 327-1415.