Drowning fatalities in childhood: the role of pre-existing medical conditions

Franklin, Richard C., Pearn, John H., and Peden, Amy E. (2017) Drowning fatalities in childhood: the role of pre-existing medical conditions. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 102 (10). pp. 888-893.

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Objectives: This study is an analysis of the contribution of pre-existing medical conditions to unintentional fatal child (0–14 years) drowning and a of critique prevention stratagems, with an exploration of issues of equity in recreation.

Design: This study is a total population, cross-sectional audit of all demographic, forensic and on-site situational details surrounding unintentional fatal drowning of children 0–14 years in Australia for the period of 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2012. Data were sourced from the National (Australia) Coronial Information System. Age-specific disease patterns in the general population were obtained from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Results: Four hundred and sixty-eight children drowned during the study period. Fifty-three (11.3%) had a pre-existing medical condition, of whom 19 suffered from epilepsy, 13 from autism and 5 with non-specific intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy is a risk factor in childhood drowning deaths, with a prevalence of 4.1% of drowning fatalities, compared with 0.7%–1.7% among the general 0–14 years population (relative risk: 2.4–5.8). Epilepsy was deemed to be contributory in 16 of 19 cases (84.2% of epilepsy cases) with a median age of 8 years. Asthma and intellectual disabilities were under-represented in the drowning cohort.

Conclusion: Except for epilepsy, this research has indicated that the risks of drowning while undertaking aquatic activities are not increased in children with pre-existing medical conditions. Children with pre-existing medical conditions can enjoy aquatic activities when appropriately supervised.

Item ID: 50136
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1468-2044
Funders: Royal Life Saving Society
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2017 23:12
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420202 Disease surveillance @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920404 Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response) @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 50%
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