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Fatal Child Drownings in U.S. Decreases Dramatically

Every year, more than 1,000 children in the United States die from drowning. Another 5,000 children are injured. However, a new study shows these fatal accidents have declined immensely since the early 1990’s.

From 1993 to 2008, the number of children who died from drowning declined 42 percent. Total trips to the hospital after drowning-related incidents declined by 51 percent among children.
Drowning decrease among children
"There have been efforts at education from a variety of groups," said study author Stephen Bowman, an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "One would think that those messages are getting across."
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The second leading cause of death for children in the United States is drowning. The first cause of death is car accidents. Nonfatal drowning often results in brain damage and long-term disability, according to the study.

Children under the age of 4 are most likely to die in drowning incidents, generally in bathtubs or after falling into water. Older children are more likely to drown while swimming. 

Boys are four to six times more likely to suffer a drowning, in comparison to girls. The researchers suspect that that is because boys are more likely to drink alcohol while swimming or overestimate their swimming skills. Between 30 and 50 percent of teen and adult drowning are caused (at least partly) by drinking.

The study found a 40 percent drop in hospital visits following bathtub-related drownings among children under 4 years old and a 50 percent decline in swimming-related hospital trips for children ages 10 to 14. In warmer parts of the country, drowning injuries declined by almost 50 percent during the study period.

While the number of drowning deaths and injuries has dropped, the cost of medical treatment has remained about the same because expenses per case have grown, Bowman said.

"The relative cost per drowning case has risen dramatically and offsets the reduction in hospitalizations," Bowman said.
In 2000, costs associated with such injuries exceeded $5.3 billion, including $2.6 billion for children up to 14 years old, the study said.

Other factors involved in drowning rates include public health initiatives, education and safety legislation.

The study will help safety organizations target their efforts at regions where more drownings occur.