Drownings: AAP policy statement offers guidance on prevention

  • Denny SA & al.
  • Pediatrics
  • 15 Mar 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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  • 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.

Key recommendations

  • 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.

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