By World of Sport (original post from Yahoo Eurosport)
When you think about 'dangerous' sports, things like boxing, rugby, American football, motor racing and skiing come to mind.
However, for women in the United States, one sport appears to be much more dangerous than anything else and it is not what you might expect.
Cheerleading, believe it or not, is the sport that causes BY FAR the highest number of serious injuries amongst women in the country.
Some people might just see it as pretty girls waving pom-poms but it is a lot more physically demanding than that and the injury results published by the Journal of Pediatrics reveal some alarming statistics.
According to the new research, 66 per cent of "catastrophic" sporting injuries (resulting in permanent disability or medical conditions) amongst women in the US are caused by cheerleading or 'competitive cheer.'
At university level the figure is even higher with more than 70 per cent of serious injuries being suffered by cheerleaders.
The report says the majority of serious injuries are suffered by those catching cheerleaders rather than the ones being flung in the air.
Visits to casualty resulting from cheerleading has gone from under 5,000 in 1980 to 26,786 in 2007, while some of the girls who were analysed in the latest study may have suffered concussions that went undiagnosed at the time of their injuries.
"I don't know that the general impression has evolved as fast as the sport has. It takes time for these things to register," Dr Cynthia LaBella, who wrote a separate report on cheerleading last year told the Washington Post.
"These girls, and boys, are at risk for injury. This should be considered a sport, and these folks should be treated as athletes, not as entertainers."
At the moment 29 US states recognise cheerleading as a sport.
Paediatrics want more states to acknowledge it as such as it would then require more regulation and qualified coaches.
An estimated 3.6 million Americans take part in cheerleading with 96 per cent of them women.