By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Which high school athletes have the highest number of concussions?

Many would guess football, but a surprising new study says it’s actually female high school athletes who are more likely to suffer a concussion than male athletes.

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Researchers say the risk for concussions can be related to muscles and strength in the neck.

Doctors say because girls generally have smaller weaker necks that could be why they have more concussions than high school boys.

High school girls are 50 percent more likely than boys to suffer a concussion in sports that are played by both genders, according to a new study

Doctors say young women, by nature, tend to have longer and thinner necks than their male counterparts, which can account for some of the increased risk.

“One of the reasons this happens is that the amount of sudden movement of the head that occurs with any impact is a strong risk factor for having actual concussion, and that if we have strong neck muscles, that we don’t have our head move quite as much when we have an impact,” said Dr. Andrew Russman.

Researchers looked at reported concussions from 27 high school sports at nearly 150 high schools across the country.

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The largest discrepancy was found in concussion rates for girls  softball, which were four-times higher than boys baseball.

Researchers say some of the discrepancy could be due to under-reporting by high school boys.

Doctors say all athletes should be having conversations with their athletic trainers about ways to reduce their personal risk of concussion.

Female soccer players lead all high school athletes in concussions, according to a report from the  American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Girls volleyball and boys baseball also have high rates of concussions.

It is believed that the increase in concussions isn’t because there are more of them as much as there is more awareness and a growing number of rules governing how concussions are diagnosed and treated.

Concussion in teenagers can lead to serious, lifelong issues.

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Stephanie Stahl