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.

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