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Your Kids May Not Be Drinking Enough Water

Children Drinking Water
 Water, water everywhere — but your kids may not be drinking it.

A new study from Harvard University found that most American kids and teens don't drink enough water, which is leaving them mildly dehydrated.

Harvard researchers reviewed survey data and urine tests collected from more than 4,000 kids, aged 6 to 19, between 2009 and 2012. They found that more than half of the children surveyed weren't getting enough hydration. Boys were 76 percentage more likely than girls to be inadequately hydrated. Nearly a quarter of the kids in the study said they didn't drink any plain water at all.

Mild dehydration can cause health issues such as headaches, irritability, poor physical performance and difficulty learning.

In a Harvard news release, the researchers urge parents to encourage their children to drink more water. "If we can focus on helping children drink more water—a low-cost, no-calorie beverage—we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school," they say.

According to the Institute of Medicine, kids and teens need to consume approximately two to three quarts (1.7 to 3.3 liters) of water daily. This number varies based on gender, age and size, so talk to your child's pediatrician to find out how much water he or she should be consuming.

Some parents may turn to other sources of fluids when kids are resistant to drinking water. "It's sufficient for fluid balance to get your fluids from juices and other sources," says Scott Youngquist, MD, an emergency physician at University of Utah Health. "However, the downside is all the sugar that comes with the fluid. You could consider some sugar-free water flavors."