As spring turns to summer, more children get involved in summer sports, and young athletes carry higher risk than adults for dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Although the reasons are not completely clear, children's bodies sweat less and are more prone to taking on heat from the environment.
Matthew Beekley, assistant professor of kinesiology and coordinator of the Exercise Science Program at the University of Indianapolis, offers these tips for parents of active kids:
• Provide commercially available sports drinks like Gatorade for children before, during and after practice and competition. Research indicates children prefer these drinks over water and fruit juices, and therefore are likely to drink more.
• Children should prehydrate, drinking 4 to 8 ounces of liquid before arriving at practice or competition.
• During activity, children should drink about 4 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes if possible, especially in a hot and humid environment.
• Fluids should not be restricted as punishment or to make weight for a sport.
• Children who are overweight should be watched more closely for signs of heat-related illness because the excess fat acts as insulation, trapping heat.
• "Energy" drinks are not recommended for children because most contain caffeine and other supplements that can be harmful.