According to a new study, young ballerinas may face the same health risks as women engaging in other athletic pursuits. The study author, Dr. Anne Hoch calls these risks "the female athlete tetrad": disordered eating, amenorrhea, vascular problems, and low bone density.
Of the 22 ballerinas studied, 86% had at least one component of the tetrad, and 14% had all four. A disturbing point of comparison — 44% of women who run six days a week are apparently amenorrheic. Athletes and ballerinas who restrict their eating and don't menstruate, says Hoch, have "the cardiovascular and bone density deficits of much older, postmenopausal women." Folic acid Supplements can help prevent vascular problems, but a better solution would be for girls and women to eat enough to support both their active lifestyles and their hearts and skeletons.