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For Immediate Release

As Temperatures in the Region Soar This Week, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Doctors Want Kids to Keep Their Cool

As temperatures in Pittsburgh jump into the 90s and above, doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh are warning children and parents to be cautious of signs of heat-related illnesses.

Those children most vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat stroke are infants and young children, according to Richard A. Saladino, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Children's. In addition, children with chronic health problems, or those who take certain medicines may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. The three most common illnesses are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke - all of which can cause serious problems.

"Children don't adapt as well as adults do to the hot, humid weather that Pittsburgh is currently experiencing," said Dr. Saladino, also an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "They are also unable to care for themselves properly in this extreme heat. Because of that, it is important for parents to take precautionary measures such as, regulating outdoor activities and making sure that their children are drinking plenty of fluids."

Dr. Saladino also warned of the dangers of children left unattended in a parked vehicle, where temperatures can climb as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes and become life-threatening.

Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat illness and consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise and sweating in high heat. The second, heat exhaustion can develop after several consecutive days of exposure to high temperatures and lack of hydration. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body's temperature rises too rapidly and is unable to cool itself down properly. Body temperature may rise to 106 or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if emergency treatment is not provided.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued these guidelines for safe outdoor activity based on the wet bulb globe temperature (WGBT), which is the standard index of temperature and humidity combined:

. WBGT below 75 F - All activities are allowed, but coaches should be alert for heat-related symptoms.

. WBGT between 75 F and 78.6 F - Children should take rest periods in the shade for long enough to cool off. They should also drink fluids every 15 minutes.

. WBGT between 79 F and 84 F - Children who haven't yet acclimated to the heat or who are at higher risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses should stop playing and get out of the heat.

. WBGT 85 F and above - Cancel all outdoor athletic activities.

It is recommended that parents keep children indoors in air-conditioning, make sure that they are drinking plenty of fluids, outfit them in lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, and use sunscreen when outdoors.

For more information and preventative tips about heat-related illness, please visit the links below:

Playing in the Heat

Heat-Related Illnesses

Sun Safety

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 15, 2008
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Last Update
February 15, 2008