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Analysis: Public efforts lead to fewer kids drowning

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Johns Hopkins researchers find decline in drowning hospitalizations among kids

A new study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy shows 51 percent fewer children were hospitalized after a drowning incident over the past two decades. According to the finding, drowning incidents declines in all age groups; among boys and girls, thanks to public and private efforts to keep kids safe.

The findings showed, though hospitalizations and drowning deaths have declined in children in general, accidents occurred more often for boys than girls.
For their study, the Hopkins team extracted data from the 1993-2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, which was sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Lead study author Stephen Bowman, PhD, MHA, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 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."

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Bowman says drowning accounts for kills 1,000 children, age 1 to 19 in the United States each year, and 5,000 related injuries. Among children age 0 to 14 years, the cost was estimated at $2.6 billion.

Further estimates are needed to measure outcomes for children with neurological impairments who are victims of near drowning, Bowman said

Adding four-sided fencing to pool areas and increased use of personal flotation devices contributed to the 51 percent fewer drowning hospitalizations among children from 1993 to 2008.

According to background information from the authors, drowning is the second leading cause of death among children age 1 to 19 years in the U.S. The authors concluded the decline seen in hospitalizations and drowning deaths over the past 16 years can be used to target further interventions to keep kids safe.

Pediatrics: (doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2491)
Trends in US Pediatric Drowning Hospitalizations, 1993–2008
Stephen M. Bowman, PhD et al.
January 16, 2012