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Abby Milton '09

Significant risk of dehydration in young soccer players.

Soccer is played in a continuous manner with limited opportunities for athletes to rest and rehydrate. Young athletes are more prone to heat-related illnesses due to a reduced sweating capacity and immature thirst mechanism compared to adults. (Pediatrics, 106:158-159, 2000; Rowland, J Appl Physiol,105:718-724, 2008).

Purpose: To assess the risk of dehydration in youth soccer players and assess their knowledge of fluid requirements.

Methods: Two female teams (13 girls, aged 13-15) and two male teams (21 boys, aged 11-14) were recruited from two local youth soccer associations.  This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the College and written informed consent was signed by both the parent/guardian and the subject.  Subjects completed a short survey about their individual drinking habits and knowledge. Data collected included subject's body weight, fluid consumption, and choice of Gatorade or water during competition. Pre- and post-competition urine samples were collected and urine osmolality was measured using the Fiske 110 osmometer.

Results: Only 18% of the total number of subjects came to their games well hydrated, with 61% of girls and 57% of boys starting significantly dehydrated (Casa, NATA Position statement. J Athl Train. 35(2):212-224, 2000). The choice between water and Gatorade was approximately 50/50; 14 chose water, 13 chose Gatorade consistently, and 6 alternated beverages. Those consuming Gatorade drank approximately 310 ml more fluid. None of the four teams on average met the guidelines for fluid consumption (1200-1800ml mid-range) for a 90 minute game (NATA). Fluid consumption during the game was inadequate for most players; 46% of girls and 47% of boys were still significantly dehydrated after their games. The grand average for fluid consumption was 881±240 ml.  Most subjects (70%) reported being thirsty pre-competition. Subjects' reported daily fluid consumption approximately met the minimum daily fluid requirement (based on subjects' weight,) without any additional fluid for exercise. The survey revealed 63% of subjects thought more breaks would improve fluid consumption, 35% suggested flavored drinks and/or more drinks, 19% suggested more time during breaks, and 14% suggested more bathrooms [port-a-potties], would help enhance fluid consumption.

Conclusions: Most players (82%) started their games dehydrated and failed to drink sufficient fluids to improve their status during the game.  Teams failed to consume adequate fluids on average during competition, and the high standard deviation demonstrates great variability, with some subjects consuming less than 500 ml.  The tendency for these young athletes to start their games dehydrated places them at risk to develop heat-related illnesses. Coaches, parents, and players must take precautions to prevent dehydration and consider providing more breaks, time to drink, and flavored drinks during a practice or game situation.

Abby Milton presenting her research at the at the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, March, 2009, St. Cloud, MN

To view Poster, click on link below:

Significant risk of dehydration in young soccer players

Research Advisors: Amy Olson, PhD, RDN, LD and Mani Campos, Biology