Water Safety Paying Off

Drowning incidents among kids have decreased over the past decade and a half

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among U.S. children aged 1 to 19, causing over 1,000 deaths among kids annually, but those rates are headed down the drain.

As drowning deaths have decreased over the past decade, so have hospitalizations for children who have drowned or nearly drowned, according to a new study.

"Make sure your children learn how to swim."

The study revealed that drowning-related hospitalizations among children of all ages and both genders decreased 51 percent from 1993 to 2008 in the U.S.

Higher rates of hospitalizations occurred for boys at all ages, and the southern states had the highest rate of hospital visits for drowning-related incidents, likely because of warmer climates and more access to recreational swimming.

The study data was pulled from the 1993-2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The study confirms that drowning rates overall are decreasing for children, said lead author Stephen Bowman, PhD, MHA, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"We found a significant decline in the rate of pediatric drowning hospitalizations, which is consistent with documented decreases in pediatric deaths from drowning," Bowman said.

"Our findings provide evidence of a true decrease in drowning-related incidents, rather than simply a shift towards more children dying before reaching a hospital," he added.

The authors credit a variety of public and private health initiatives for helping to reduce drowning rates, such as adding fences to outdoor pools and increasing children's use of floatation devices.

They also pointed to public health promotion of childhood swim lessons as a factor helping the trend.

The researchers said they saw lower rates of bathtub drownings most likely because of more campaigns for awareness and education for parents and caregivers about the dangers of leaving a child alone in the tub and the risks of some infant bathtub seats.

The study was released by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and was published online in the journal Pediatrics in January. It will appears in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Funding for the study came from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Research Resources Clinical and Translational Research.

The authors did not report any financial conflicts of interests for this study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 20, 2012
Last Updated:
January 21, 2012