01/17/2012 12:03 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Put a lid on it: Pediatricians say all skiers, boarders should wear helmets

TORONTO - Canada's pediatricians want skiers and snowboarders of all ages to wear helmets.

The Canadian Paediatric Society says helmets should be made mandatory for anyone taking to the ski hills, a position that is backed by the American Academy of Pediatricians.

The Canadian group notes that despite strong evidence that helmets prevent injuries, many people still ski and snowboard without them.

They say governments could send a strong message about the importance of helmets through legislation making them mandatory.

The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program says snowboarding and downhill skiing are among the top three causes of injury related to snow and ice activities.

Children and youth are at higher risk for ski and snowboarding injuries such as sprains, fractures and injury to the head and neck.

The risk applies to skiers and snowboarders of all levels of competency, the group says.

"People think that because they are an experienced skier or snowboarder they won't get injured. But they can't control external factors like the terrain or other skiers who might not be as experienced," says Dr. Natalie Yanchar, chair of the society's injury prevention committee and co-author of the position statement.

The organization also recommends that skiers and snowboarders wear proper equipment including goggles and wrist guards for snowboarding. They suggest people heading out on the slopes should avoid borrowing equipment and should only rent from a reputable ski shop or resort.