Q: "...it does make me think about the time when it was thought women shouldn't run the marathon either."
A: Correct. And cigarettes were once endorsed by doctors in magazine ads. But the issue here is one of physical (if not psychological) maturity for the highly repetitive demands of marathoning. In fact, children are at considerable greater risk of sustaining injuries in any repetitive sport. Most pediatricians understand that, even though parents may not. (ie: we continue to see far too many Little Leaguers throwing curve-balls, then ruining their arms by age 15. And their parents blissfully sit by and let it all happen.)
Q: "I wonder how young do the Kenyan's start running ultra long distances?"
A: At whatever age those children begin, I assure you they are not pounding out miles on concrete and pavement as American children do.
Q: "Has any study actually been done or is it just theory?"
A: The studies to date involve the basic anatomical differences in adult vs adolescent physiology. These studies also tell us that female youth athletes are at even greater risk than boys. The tangible evidence is this: pediatricians in the US are seeing more and more injured children each year. These are children who are specializing in a given sport, and in turn breaking down physically. Sports medicine for adolescents has become an tremendous growth industry. It's pretty clear why.
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