New research suggests that female athletes are at a higher risk for concussions than their male counterparts.
The results of the Columbia University study [PDF] were presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Neurology 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston.
Investigators found that among college athletes of both sexes who took part in sports such as soccer, football and basketball, women were 50 percent more likely to suffer sports-related concussions.
However, the study did not suggest a reason for the disparity.
“It is unclear why women appear to be at higher risk for sports-related concussion than men,” Dr. James Noble, who presented the research at the AAN meeting, said in a news release. “The findings from this study highlight the need for more research on the gender differences in concussion.”
Noble, a neurologist at The Neurological Institute of New York Taubs Institute in New York City, is one of the investigators who worked on the study.
The study included 1,203 athletes, broken down into 822 men and 381 women, who attended Columbia University between 2000 and 2014.
Of those study participants, a total of 228 athletes (140 men and 88 women) experienced at least one concussion during their college playing career. That represents 17 percent of the men and 23.1 percent of the women.
While the reasons for the difference is still unknown, Noble says there are several hypotheses, including physiological differences in the heads and necks between the sexes to possible differences in the ways men and women report concussions.