Infant Drowning Prevention: Insights from a New Ecological Psychology Approach

Burnay, Carolina, Anderson, David I., Button, Chris, Cordovil, Rita, and Peden, Amy (2022) Infant Drowning Prevention: Insights from a New Ecological Psychology Approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (8). 4567.

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Drowning causes significant mortality and morbidity globally, and infants (0–4 years of age) are disproportionately impacted. In a groundbreaking approach to pediatric drowning prevention, ecological psychology has been used to investigate the relationship between infants’ perceptual–motor development and their behavior around bodies of water. In this review, we summarize recent research findings in the field of ecological psychology and apply these to the prevention of infant drowning. Studies have linked infants’ avoidance of falls into the water with locomotor experience and type of accessway into bodies of water. Through crawling experience, infants learn to perceive the risk of falling into water and start adapting their behavior to avoid drop-offs leading into water. Infants tend to enter deep water more when the access is via a slope than via a drop-off. We propose that ecological psychology can enhance infant drowning prevention interventions. The aim is to create an additional layer of protection, the perceptual information layer, in addition to existing strategies, such as supervision and barriers. This new protective layer can be a powerful tool to further highlight the risk of entering the water and reduce infant drowning-related mortality and morbidity.

Item ID: 74552
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1660-4601
Keywords: affordances, child, development, environment, epidemiology, risk, water cliff, water safety, water slope
Copyright Information: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2022 03:13
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420299 Epidemiology not elsewhere classified @ 20%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420604 Injury prevention @ 80%
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