Friday, March 4, 2011

Be a "water" role model

If we are truly concerned about the academic performance and overall health of our children, it is critical that we make sure that they take in adequate amounts of plain water. Research has shown that physiological functioning, mental development, and cognitive performance are all affected by dehydration. This is true for the mildest levels of dehydration. 
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has reported that many of our boys and girls are not drinking the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. It does not help that parents/guardians are allowing children to "hydrate" with sugary drinks, juices, and pop instead of healthy, clean water. The same article also notes that children who drink plain water consume fewer calories than children who drink sugary beverages. 
Just as adults have learned, children must be taught not to wait until they are thirsty before they drink water. By the time a child feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration in children include:
  • dry or sticky mouth
  • few or no tears when crying
  • eyes that look sunken into the head
  • soft spot (fontanelle) on top of baby's head that looks sunken
  • lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours in an infant 
  • a very small amount of dark yellow urine
  • lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child
  • dry, cool skin
  • lethargy or irritability
  • fatigue or dizziness in an older child

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