Adequate fluid intake is critical for survival. While adults are at liberty to drink fluids as wanted, children and infants are dependent upon caregivers for food and fluid. Children are at greater risk for dehydration than adults due to their higher surface-to-mass ratio. Additionally, children have different thirst sensitivities and body cooling mechanisms than adults. Children differ from adults in total body water content, and boys and girls differ in body water content with maturation. Research in young adults shows that mild dehydration corresponding to only 1% to 2% of body weight loss can lead to significant impairment in cognitive function. Dehydration in infants is associated with confusion, irritability, and lethargy; in children, it may produce decrements in cognitive performance.

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