About a sixth of head and face injuries sustained while playing rugby or netball were to children 12 and under, new figures show.

The data - which doesn't include professional athletes - comes on the heels of the world's leading experts in head injuries saying children under 12 should not play contact sports.

ACC figures showed there were 5994 head injury claims made for those 12 and under from playing netball, rugby league or rugby union between 2015 and the end of April this year - 16 per cent of the total head injury claims made

Starting out young