Heat Related Illnesses in Youth
What is the risk to children of heat-related illness? What can parents and caregivers do?
A Message from the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)
Children can be at high risk from heat because:
Children produce more heat (because of a greater surface area-to-body mass ratio) than adults.
Children sweat less than adults.
Children are less likely to drink adequate fluids during exercise and heat.
Infants, and especially newborns, are at higher risk.
Children who rarely exercise, are overweight or obese, have had a previous heat-related illness, drink caffeinated beverages, are developmentally delayed or have cognitive disabilities, have underlying medical conditions (diabetes), are at higher risk.
What Parents of Infants and Young Children Can Do:
Make sure infants and young children have access to air conditioning, lightweight clothing, adequate fluids, and cooling water. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are especially sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
Monitor for and recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and dehydration in children. Dehydration in young children early on can present as: decreased urine output, dry or sticky mouth, irritability, and fatigue.
What Coaches/Parents/Teachers Can Do:
Reduce the intensity of physical activity lasting more than 15 minutes, especially if heat and humidity are both high.
Realize that conditioned athletes may be more susceptible to heat stroke because they have a larger body mass.
Require young athletes to take fluid breaks before practice and every 15 – 60 minutes during practice – even if they are not thirsty.
Require all athletes to take regular shade and rest breaks.
Recognize signs of heat illness and dehydration in children. Dehydration early on can present as: dry or sticky mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness, cramps, excessive fatigue.