Despite increasing concern about the long-term risk of dementia and other problems from heading a ball or tackling, children are still playing contact sports. Should you play it safe and stop them?

I love to watch my daughter play football, but when she heads the ball, I feel a surge of pride (she isn’t one of those who duck out the way) and a surge of fear. How many brain cells did she knock out? And what goes on inside her head when the ball hits it?

Since the case of Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion footballer who died of a degenerative brain disease in 2002, the potential risks of heading have come under intensive scrutiny. The coroner cited “industrial disease” as the cause of Astle’s death. At about the same time, Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist played by Will Smith in the film Concussion, was establishing a link between the sudden death of NFL player Mike Webster and a form of brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that had previously been associated only with boxers.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".