HEALTH SPOTLIGHT: Fifty Percent of Children May Not Be Drinking Enough Water

By  //  November 7, 2019

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Researchers recommend eight ounces of additional water per day

Is your child drinking enough water? Adequate hydration, getting enough water, is vital to good health. After all, we’re mostly made of water — about 60% of our bodies is water. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Space Coast Daily is delighted to welcome Dr. Christopher Johnson as a guest contributor on issues of child health and well-being. With 35 years of experience practicing pediatrics, pediatric critical care (intensive care), and pediatric emergency room care he is committed to educating parents on how best to meet the needs of the ill and injured child in today’s often confusing and complex healthcare system. In this article, Dr. Johnson reports on a study that looks at the crucial issue of making sure children are adequately hydrated.

— Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

Adequate hydration, getting enough water, is vital to good health. After all, we’re mostly made of water — about 60% of our bodies is water. 

How much water do children need every day? We have some simple calculations we use to determine what we call their maintenance fluid need: 100 mL/kg for the first 10 kg of body weight, 50 mL/kg for the next 10 kg body weight, and 20 mL/kg for every kg after that until the child is adult sized.

That works out to about 1 liter/day for a 10 kg (22 pound) child, 1.5 liters/day for a 20 kg (44 pound) child, and 1.9 liters for a 40 kg (88 pound) child. Of course that’s just the baseline; you need to add more for activity.

An interesting recent research study asked the question if children are, on average, as hydrated as we would recommend. The study was a powerful one because it didn’t just ask parents how much fluid their children drank; it measured the osmolality of the urine, which indicates how concentrated the urine is, which is in turn a measure of hydration status.

Offer your children plenty of water at meals and make sure they take water with them when they go to various activities, especially sports.

The results were interesting. The authors found that just over half of all children were not optimally hydrated.

They weren’t dehydrated, that is to say sick, but their urine osmolality was higher than what we would recommend.

The authors also calculated that around 8 ounces of additional water (about 350 mL) would be sufficient to bring the average school-age child up to the recommended amount. That’s the size of a standard kitchen glass of water.

The take-home message for me is to offer your children plenty of water at meals and make sure they take water with them when they go to various activities, especially sports.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Johnson, MD

Dr. Christopher Johnson received his undergraduate education in history and religion at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1974. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1978 from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, then trained in general pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by training in pediatric infectious diseases, hematology research, and pediatric critical care medicine at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. Dr. Johnson is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in general pediatrics and in pediatric critical care medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Johnson, who has been named to a list of  The 50 Best Mayo Clinic Doctors — Ever,” devotes his time to practicing pediatric critical care as President of Pediatric Intensive Care Associates, P.C., as Medical Director of the PICU for CentraCare Health Systems, and to writing about medicine for general readers. His popular website/blog and four books provide a wealth of information and answers to practical questions related to child health issues.

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