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Deaths by drowning fall, but pools abroad still 'a major concern'

The number of children drowning in the United Kingdom has declined between 1988-89 and 1998-99. However drownings in pools abroad and in garden ponds have risen significantly, finds a study in this weeks BMJ.

Researchers at the University of Wales College of Medicine, the Royal Life Saving Society, and the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents compared deaths by drowning in children aged 0-14 years in the periods 1988-9 and 1998-9.

A total of 104 children drowned in 1998-9 compared with 149 in 1988-9. The number of deaths fell in all sites (rivers, canals, and lakes; domestic pools; and the sea) apart from deaths in garden ponds, where the numbers rose significantly. At least 14 British children drowned abroad, mostly while swimming in hotel or apartment pools.

Three times more boys than girls drowned during both periods, and autistic children were particularly at risk.

Drownings in pools abroad and in garden ponds are a major concern, and safety organisations and holiday companies need to improve the safety of children abroad, say the authors. The rise in the number of drownings in garden ponds may be due to an increase in the number of water features in gardens, perhaps as a result of popular garden programmes on television, they add.

Detailed data on deaths by drowning should be collected routinely by government statistics offices in the United Kingdom, they conclude.


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Contact: Emma Wilkinson
ewilkinson@bmj.com
44-207-383-6529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
2-May-2002


Page: 1

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