Thermoregulatory responses to exercise differ in prepubertal athletes compared with their adult counterparts. It is important, therefore, to consider fluid requirements specific to this age group to prevent risks of dehydration and diminished sports performance. Relative to their body size, children demonstrate lower sweat water losses during exercise than adults. Nonetheless, percentage levels of incurred dehydration are similar in pre- and postpubertal athletes. Moreover, voluntary (ad libitum) drinking volumes in children in respect to their body size are comparable or greater than those of adults. Given an adequate opportunity to drink during exercise, volume intake driven by thirst should be expected to prevent significant levels of dehydration in child athletes. The amount can be calculated conservatively as an hourly fluid intake of 13 mL/kg (6 mL/lb) bodyweight. Equally important is post-exercise fluid replenishment (approximately 4 mL/kg [2 mL/lb] for each hour of exercise) to avoid initiating subsequent exercise bouts in a dehydrated state. Choice of fluid should be dictated by taste preference, since volume of intake, rather than fluid content, is the most critical issue in child athletes. Since children may lack motivation for proper fluid intake behaviours, the responsibility falls to coaches and parents to assure that young athletes receive appropriate hydration during and after exercise bouts.
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