Swimming lessons may reduce risk of drowning in tots

March 3rd, 2009 - 5:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 3 (ANI): Kids below the age of four years may have lower risk of drowning if they have taken formal swimming lessons, according to a new study. Between 2000 and 2005, 6,900 children younger than 20 died due to non-boating-related drowning.
While interventions have been put in place to prevent these events, such instances depend on the circumstances and the age of the victim.
For example, pool fencing helps protect toddlers who gain unauthorized access to a pool, but does not prevent drowning among children near a lake or canal.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics” recommendation, all children should be taught to swim after the age of five years as a preventive strategy.
However, it does not recommend for or against swimming lessons in younger children because of a lack of data.
For the study, Ruth A. Brenner, M.D., M.P.H., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analysed the link between drowning and swimming lessons in children and adolescents age 1 to 19 in six states.
They conducted interviews with 88 children families of children, who had drowned between 2003 and 2005, and also with the families of 213 control children, who were the same age and sex and lived in the same county as those who had drowned.
In children ages 1 to 4 years, two of the 61 who had drowned (3 percent) had ever taken formal swimming lessons, as compared with 35 of the 134 controls (26 percent).
That indicated a statistically significant reduction in the odds of drowning among children who had taken swimming lessons, said the researchers.
The parents revealed that the children who had drowned were less skilled swimmers-for example, only 5 percent of them were able to float on their back for 10 seconds, vs. 18 percent of controls.
Of the 27 children age 5 to 19 who drowned, seven (27 percent) had ever taken formal swimming lessons, compared with 42 of the 79 controls (53 percent).
However, the association between swimming lessons and drowning was not statistically significant.
In case of younger children, those who had drowned were reported to be poorer swimmers, 42 percent of whom were unable to swim continuously for at least one minute as compared to 16 percent of controls.
“Previous concerns have been raised about the potential for swimming lessons to increase the risk of drowning, either through increased exposure to water or through decreased parental vigilance as parents become more confident in their child’’s swimming ability,” wrote the authors.
However, these results and those of similar studies provide reassurance that swimming lessons may have a protective effect.
The study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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