Cold season has arrived, the leaves are turning golden and winter is around the corner. Children are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults, so they can quickly develop a dangerously low body temperature (hypothermic). Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or submersion in cold water.
Newborn infants are prone to hypothermia because of their large body surface area, small amount of subcutaneous fat and decreased ability to shiver. Children and adults respond to cold extremes by shivering, developing goose bumps and experiencing lethargy and a slow heart rate. Eventually the shivering ends and disorientation and lack of responsiveness occur. Severe hypothermia can also result in arrhythmia, an abnormal beating of the heart.
If you suspect a child has developed hypothermia, get him or her into room or shelter, remove wet clothing and warm the body. Warm beverages can also help increase the body temperature. After the temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck, and get medical attention as soon as possible. Continue Reading »