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PLoS One. 2019 Jan 17;14(1):e0210568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210568. eCollection 2019.

The impact of water consumption on hydration and cognition among schoolchildren: Methods and results from a crossover trial in rural Mali.

Author information

Department of Environmental Health, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
School of Psychology, University of East London, London, United Kingdom.
Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Section, Save the Children Mali, Bamako, Mali.


Adequate provision of safe water, basic sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities and behavior change can reduce pupil absence and infectious disease. Increased drinking water quantity may also improve educational outcomes through the effect of hydration on attention, concentration, and short-term memory. A pilot study was conducted to adapt field measures of short-term cognitive performance and hydration, to evaluate levels of hydration, and to investigate the impact of providing supplementary drinking water on the cognitive performance of pupils attending water-scarce schools in rural Mali. Using a cross-over trial design, data were collected under normal school conditions (control condition) on one visit day; on the other, participants were given a bottle of water that was refilled throughout the day (water condition). Morning and afternoon hydration was assessed using specific gravity and urine color. Cognitive performance was evaluated using six paper-based tests. Three percent of pupils were dehydrated on the morning of each visit. The prevalence of dehydration increased in the afternoon, but was lower under the water condition. Although there was a trend indicating drinking water may improve cognitive test performance, as has been shown in studies in other settings, results were not statistically significant and were masked by a "practice effect."

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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