Reporter 464, 26 March 2001

School water warning

A lack of fresh drinking water in schools is seriously affecting children's health and their capacity to learn, according to University child kidney specialist Dr Trevor Brocklebank.

He questioned 100 children who passed through his outpatients clinic, and discovered that half of them didn't drink water at school at all, most had no access to water, and many didn't use the school toilets.

Some said they weren't even encouraged to drink fresh water after games lessons.

"Everyone needs to drink lots of water to stay healthy, especially children," he said.

"Lack of proper facilities at schools could lead to increased risk of kidney and urinary tract infections. Children also concentrate better if they are not suffering dehydration."

Dr Brocklebank alerted the medical officer for environmental health for Leeds, Dr Martin Schweiger, who has been encouraging heads to improve water supplies at schools. Parents have also joined the campaign and questions have been asked by local MPs in the House of Commons. A water fountain manufacturer is prepared to offer its product at a cheaper price to schools, but as Dr Brocklebank himself acknowledged, school resources are often already stretched to the limit.

Dr Brocklebank now intends to conduct a further survey of 300 more children.

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