Austin’s chief ER doctor at Dell Children’s talks heat-related injuries in kids

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As summer temperatures go up in Central Texas, so do the number of heat-related injuries in children.

Dr. Eric Higginbotham, the Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center, says cases of heat exhaustion are common in younger kids at the start of summer.

“Heat exhaustion happens frequently in kids less than 4 years old,” he says. “They tend to be one of the highest risk groups and infants.”

The warning signs of heat exhaustion are feeling light headed or faint. If it’s not treated quickly, heat exhaustion could lead to heat stroke in kids.

“That’s when your body can no longer regulate heat and then you can have seizure and that can be a life threatening condition,” says Dr. Higginbotham.

He says even a sunburn as a child can be threatening, “because even just a single sunburn where you’re peeling can drastically increase your risk of cancer down the line.” The Centers for Disease Control says one blistering sunburn as a child doubles the risk of skin cancer later in life.

Dr. Higginbotham says he also sees what he calls “disastrous, but preventable” cases in the summer — kids left in hot cars.

“That is the one you want to make sure that you’re vigilant about preventing,” he said.

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