- Michael F. Bergeron, PhD
- Executive Director, National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD.
Dr Bergeron has disclosed no financial relationships relevant to this article. This commentary does not contain discussion of unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
Exertional heatstroke is the leading cause of preventable death in youth sports. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 issued guidelines designed to reduce exertional heat illness. With adequate hydration, youth athletes do not have less effective thermoregulatory and insufficient cardiovascular capacities compared with adults during exercise in the heat. However, youth athletes are capable of incurring significant body water and sodium deficits during training and competition that can affect performance negatively and increase the risk for exertional heat illness.
Exertional heat illness risk-reduction strategies and measures for youth should focus on readily modifiable contributing risk factors, such as acclimatization status, activity modification, uniform and protective equipment configurations, and scheduling of practice, training, and play. Close monitoring of youth athletes and a prompt response to signs of evolving exertional heat illness are critical priorities for all who are involved with youth participating in sports in the heat.
After reading this article, readers should
Appreciate that exertional heatstroke is the leading cause of preventable death in youth sports.
Know the importance of progressive acclimatization to minimize the risk of exertional heat illness in youth sports.
Be able to identify other contributing risk factors and effective ways to improve exercise-heat tolerance and reduce exertional heat illness risk in youth sports.
Be prepared to educate others on their roles and responsibilities in improving safety and well-being of youth participating in outdoor sports in the heat.
Regular appropriate exercise and other physical activity can provide numerous psychological and social advantages, as well as improvements in overall health and fitness for school-age youth. (1) Participation in youth sports and associated training and practice also can be an effective way …