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Children's Health

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Most Child Drowning Victims Ignored

WebMD Health News

April 29, 2004 -- Contrary to popular belief, most children who drowned were not alone. A new report shows that 88% of child drowning victims were under the supervision of another person, usually a family member.

Researchers say drowning is the second leading injury-related cause of death for children aged 1 to 14, claiming more than 900 children's lives in the U.S. each year.

The report, released today by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and Johnson & Johnson, shows better, quality supervision of children in the water is needed.

"Adults need to actively supervise children around water. This means watching and listening at all times and staying close enough to intervene in an emergency," says Martin Eichelberger, MD, director of emergency trauma services at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, and CEO of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, in a news release.

In addition, researchers say water safety measures, such as personal floatation devices, fencing of pool areas, and teaching children to swim are underutilized.

Child Drowning Dangers Revealed

For the study, researchers examined the circumstances regarding unintentional drowning deaths of 496 children aged 14 years and under, which occurred in 2000 and 2001 in 17 states. These cases represented 89% of all unintentional drowning deaths reported in these areas during that period.

Sixty percent of the drowning deaths reviewed occurred in children aged 4 and younger, 23% among children aged 5 to 9, and 17% among those 10 to 14. Most of the victims were boys (72%).

Researchers found 88% of the drowning victims were under some form of supervision at the time of the incident, 46% were under the care of a parent, and 25% were in the care of another relative. Only 10% were completely unsupervised at the time of drowning.

Most (79%) of the unsupervised drowning victims were older children between the ages of 5 and 14.

In addition, the study showed that 68% of the children were known to be in or near the water at the time of the drowning and 32% were last known to be in another location or around the home.

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