The influence of sex and biological maturation on the sudomotor response to exercise-heat stress: Are girls disadvantaged?

Thomas H Topham, James W Smallcombe, Brad Clark, Harry A Brown, Richard D Telford, Ollie Jay, Julien D Periard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Both adult females and children have been reported to have a lower sweating capacity and thus reduced evaporative heat loss potential which may increase their susceptibility to exertional hyperthermia in the heat. Compared to males, females have a lower maximal sweat rate and thus a theoretically lower maximum skin wettedness, due to a lower sweat output per gland. Similarly, children have been suggested to be disadvantaged in high ambient temperatures due to a lower sweat production and therefore reduced evaporative capacity, despite modifications of heat transfer due to physical attributes and possible evaporative efficiency. The reported reductions in sudomotor activity of females and children suggests a lower sweating capacity in girls. However, due to the complexities of isolating sex and maturation from the confounding effects of morphological differences (e.g., body surface area-to-mass ratio) and metabolic heat production, limited evidence exists supporting whether children and, more specifically, girls are at a thermoregulatory disadvantage. Furthermore, a limited number of child-adult comparison studies involve females and very few studies have directly compared regional and whole-body sudomotor activity between boys and girls. This mini review highlights the exercise-induced sudomotor response of females and children, summarises previous research investigating the sudomotor response to exercise in girls and suggests important areas for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2022

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