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Unintentional, non-fatal drowning of children: US trends and racial/ethnic disparities
  1. Heather Felton,
  2. John Myers,
  3. Gil Liu,
  4. Deborah Winders Davis
  1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deborah Winders Davis; deborah.davis{at}


Objective The current study aimed to better understand trends and risk factors associated with non-fatal drowning of infants and children in the USA using two large, national databases.

Methods A secondary data analysis was conducted using the National Inpatient Sample and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample databases. The analytic sample (n=19 403) included children <21 years of age who had a diagnosis code for near-drowning/non-fatal drowning. Descriptive, χ2 and analysis of variance techniques were applied, and incidence rates were calculated per 100 000 population.

Results Non-fatal drowning incidence has remained relatively stable from 2006 to 2011. In general, the highest rates of non-fatal drowning occurred in swimming pools and in children from racial/ethnic minorities. However, when compared with non-Hispanic Caucasian children, children from racial/ethnic minorities were more likely to drown in natural waterways than in swimming pools. Despite the overall lower rate of non-fatal drowning among non-Hispanic Caucasian children, the highest rate of all non-fatal drowning was for non-Hispanic Caucasian children aged 0–4 years in swimming pools. Children who were admitted to inpatient facilities were younger, male and came from families with lower incomes.

Conclusions Data from two large US national databases show lack of progress in preventing and reducing non-fatal drowning admissions from 2006 to 2011. Discrepancies are seen in the location of drowning events and demographic characteristics. New policies and interventions are needed, and tailoring approaches by age and race/ethnicity may improve their effectiveness.


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