Drowning Still a Top Cause of Death for Young Kids

Kiddie pool
A plastic wading pool makes a perfect laboratory. (Image credit: Balinda Shutterstock)

For children under age 5, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death, with rates even surpassing those of traffic accident fatalities in recent years, according to a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 1999 and 2010, more than 46,000 people died from drowning in the United States, or more than 10 per day, according to the report. However, drowning death rates have decreased over time for most age groups, the report said.

Children under age 5 still had the highest risk of drowning, with death rates of nearly 3 per 100,000 in 2010. [7 Common Summer Health Concerns]

For girls between ages 1 and 4, drowning remains the second leading cause of death from unintentional injury. But for boys of these ages, drowning replaced traffic accidents and has been the leading cause of death from unintentional injury since 2005, researchers found.

Swimming pools were the most common places where children under 5 drowned. Older children and adults were most likely to drown in natural bodies of water, whereas infants under age 1 and adults older than 85 were most likely to drown in a bath tub, according to the report.

The new report also found that rates of drowning varied depending on the day of the week. The average daily number of deaths from drowning on weekend days was about 14, and about nine on weekdays.

Between 1999 and 2010, drowning death rates decreased 46 percent for infants under age 1, 17.5 percent for children ages 1 to 4, and 30 percent for children ages 5 to 19 years.

For adults ages 85 and over, drowning death rates increased 22 percent between 1999 and 2005, and then decreased 36 percent by 2010, according to the report. For people ages 45 to 84, however, death rates increased 10 percent over the 12 years of the study.

Drowning is among the top causes of accidental death worldwide, accounting for 7 percent of all injury-related deaths according to the World Health Organization. Factors that are linked to drowning include alcohol use, lack of basic swimming skills, lack of pool barriers to prevent small children from gaining access to the pool area.

Formal swimming lessons have been shown to reduce the risk of drowning among very young children, according to the CDC.

Ways to prevent drowning include taking basic swimming lessons, isolating pools with fences, supervising children, wearing lifejackets while boating, and learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the CDC says.

Email Bahar GholipourFollow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+Original article on Live Science.

Bahar Gholipour
Staff Writer
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.