Just one season of playing football changes a child's brain forever

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You don't have to be a seasoned football player to sustain brain damage from the game.

According to a new study, scientists detected brain changes in young kids who played just one season of football.

Researchers observed 25 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 who participated in a youth football program in North Carolina.

Each child agreed to wear a special helmet that measured impacts they sustained during play.

From there, the scientists compared the data against MRIs of the players' brains taken before and after the season.

SEE MORE: Concussions Are Still A Medical Mystery

And they found tiny changes in the white matter of the boys' brains — the more shots to the head a child took, the more changes he had. And they didn't have to be concussion-inducing hits.

White matter is often referred to as the "subway" of the brain because it connects different areas of neuron-rich gray matter.

It's unclear if the changes will persist over time or if they could cause any long-term alterations to important brain functions, like memory or attention span.

But the study's authors say their findings are still concerning because the brain's white matter is still developing during childhood.

Researchers say they will continue to follow some of the players to gather more information. But in the meantime, they say the results shouldn't prevent kids from being physically active in sports.

Convinced to stay benched for the season? Here are some great game-day snacks to enjoy on the sideline:

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Game day snacks great for football season
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Game day snacks great for football season

Enchilada Beef Sliders

"Leftover shredded beef? Turn it into these Enchilada Beef Sliders. Savory, a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy, they are sure to be a crowd pleaser!" - Taste and Tell

Get the recipe here!

Cantina Style Salsa with Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips

With fresh ingredients, this simple and delicious cantina style salsa with homemade corn tortilla chips comes together quickly for a tasty snack! - With Salt and Wit

Get the recipe here!

Kosher Italian Beef Topped Chicago Dog 

"Try this Kosher Italian Beef topped Chicago Dog for the ultimate hot dog taste at your next football tailgate!" - Billy Parisi

Get the recipe here

Stovetop Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese

"Total carb fest, it was great. I have zero regrets. I slept like a baby.I think that’s one of my favorite things about macaroni and cheese. It’s this mixture of creamy cheesy saltiness that is so satisfying after a long day." - PDX Food Love

Get the recipe here

Jalapeno Popper Sliders

"One of my favorite, go-to appetizers or party starters are these stuffed jalapenos.  Seriously, anything with cheese and a kick of heat and I’m sold.  So why not throw that in the burger?!?" - A Happy Food Dance

Get the recipe here

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes 

"Every bite of these fluffy baked sweet potatoes smothered in juicy, saucy crock pot Buffalo chicken tastes rich and satisfying, but is wholesome and good for you!" - Well Plated

Get the recipe here!

Tsunami Wings

"This great alternative to the classic buffalo chicken wing will astonish you with its flavor and spice." - Home Skillet

Get the recipe here

Hot Creamed Spinach Dip

"I just started throwing everything into a bowl until it looked like a ‘dip’ consistency, then baked it. This was perfect and makes a great, last minute dip idea that was cheesy and delicious!" - Carrie's Experimental Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

Chili Cheese Corn Dogs 

"Chili cheese corn dogs are a fun twist on the classic finger food. They are bite-sized morsels that are smothered in a homemade beef queso and sprinkled with queso fresco and chopped jalapeno. They are the perfect party, game day, or tailgating food!" - Cooking and Beer 

Get the recipe here

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

"This popcorn has all the flavor of buffalo sauce but that is combined with a buttery caramel that does two things. It's definitely still spicy, but in a more manageable not crying-your-eyes out kind of way." - The Whole Bite

Get the recipe here

Game Day Guacamole 

"One of my favorite game-watching munchies is chips with salsa and guacamole. Who doesn’t love a big bowl of homemade guacamole? The dish dates all the way back to the 1500s and the Aztec Empire of Mexico and people have been devouring it ever since." - The Usual Bliss

Get the recipe here!

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