A new study of the brains of soccer players who have played since childhood and currently play in adult leagues shows that “the players who had headed the ball more than about 1,100 times in the previous 12 months showed significant loss of white matter in parts of their brains involved with memory, attention and the processing of visual information, compared with players who had headed the ball fewer times”.

Another study of college players at Humboldt State University in California shows a correlation between frequent heading and poorer performance on tests of visual memory.

There appears to be a threshold below which heading is safe, but a growing consensus holds that children younger than 12 “shouldnÂ’’t be heading … and [that] parents should monitor the number of heading repetitions and any accompanying symptoms in older children”.

Read the article at nytimes.com.