Academy offers new advice on drowning prevention

Although drowning rates declined from 1985 to 2006, drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death among children ages 1-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In light of this, Elk Grove Village, IL-based AAP has highlighted emerging drowning risks and revised its guidance on swimming lessons for young children.

One of the newer drowning risks, AAP said, is the proliferation of large inflatable pools. These pools can hold gallons of water and often remain in place for weeks at a time, but they generally are not legally required to be surrounded by a protective fence because they are considered portable. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 47 child deaths between 2004 and 2006 related to inflatable pools. According to AAP, a fence surrounding a pool can cut the risk of drowning in half.

AAP also revised its policy on children's swimming lessons. New, smaller studies suggest children ages 1-4 may be less likely to drown if they have formal swimming instructions. AAP is not recommending mandatory lessons for children in this age group; instead, the guidance suggests parents gauge their child's physical abilities, emotional development and frequency of exposure to water when considering swimming lessons. AAP still does not recommend water safety lessons for babies younger than 1 year.

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