- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued an updated policy statement on drowning prevention, emphasizing high-risk populations and effective messaging.
Why this matters
- In 2017, almost 1000 people younger than 20 years died by drowning in the United States; drowning is among the top causes of injury-related pediatric death.
- Adolescents have the second highest death-by-drowning rates, largely in natural water, with overestimation of skill, underestimation of danger, substance use, and impulse control issues contributing.
- Special populations at increased risk include those with epilepsy, autism, and cardiac arrhythmias.
- Some demographic factors, including race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, have a role in access to swimming instruction.
- The policy statement addresses what clinicians can do:
- Know the leading causes of drowning to tailor messaging to caregivers.
- Be aware of children from special populations at higher drowning risk and talk with their caregivers about safety practices.
- Discuss the interaction of substance use and drowning risk; male adolescents are at especially high risk.
- Encourage conversations between children and caregivers about swimming skills and what to do if a parent or guardian is not present.
- Support inclusion of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training in high school courses.
- The policy statement lists several online resources for clinicians.