The Number Of Drownings Among Children Is Declining, But Disparities Persist

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : July 16, 2021

While the number of unintentional drowning deaths among children has declined over the past two decades, the number of Black children dying is still higher than that of whites and Hispanics, the new report shows.

The Number Of Drownings Among Children Is Declining, But Disparities Persist

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an analysis Thursday showing that the number of children drowning unintentionally dropped by 38% between 1999 and 2019. In 1999 there were 1.6 deaths per 100,000 people. By 2019, there was 1 death per 100,000. Two decades later, 756 children drowned unintentionally, but in 1999, there were more than 1,100 children who perished.

The Number Of Drownings Among Children Is Declining, But Disparities Persist

Children ages 1 to 4 have consistently had the highest rate of accidental drowning deaths: The rates decreased from 3.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 2.4 per 100,000 in 2019 but were still higher than those for other age groups. For example, the rates for children aged 5 to 13 and 14 to 17 were both less than half this rate. For the entire period, drowning rates for males were higher than for females, especially in 2019, when they were more than double that of females.

Additionally, disparities still existed among all age groups, races, or ethnicities, despite the reduction in drowning rates. For instance, the report finds that rates among Black children were significantly higher than those among white children or Hispanic children.

From 2003 through 2019, unintentional drowning rates among Black children declined from 2.7 in 1999 to 1.6 in 2003, helping to close the gap between Black and white children and among Black and Hispanic children. However, this difference held from 2003 through 2019. Over the last two decades, the death rate for white children decreased by 1.5% a year – from 1.3 to 1.0 per 100,000 – and decreased by 3% for Hispanic children.

The report indicates that, despite increases in both rural and urban areas of children’s drowning deaths, the rates of unintentional drowning deaths in rural areas remained higher than those in urban areas of children in 2019. Children drowning by accident in rural counties dropped from 2.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 1.6 in 2019, whereas the rate for children drowning in urban counties fell from 1.5 in 1999 to 0.9 in 2013, then remained steady through 2019, when the rate stands at 1.

Children under 1 participated in a bathtub accident at an increased rate of 40% in 2018-2019. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the highest percentage of deaths occurred among kids of ages 1 through 4 and 5 through 13, while the highest percentage of deaths among kids 14 through 17 occurred in natural bodies of water.

As of 2018, drowning surpassed birth defects as the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old, according to a publication published this month by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the report, children and young adults younger than 20 were drowned in almost 900 cases in 2018.

According to United States Department of Health and Human Services data, for children ages 1 to 4 years, drowning has surpassed birth defects as the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. Children and adolescents ages 5 through 19 drowned the third most often among unintentional injury-related deaths in the United States last year.

US children and youth under the age of 20 drowned almost 900 times between 2017 and 2018. More than 7200 children were treated as victims of drowning in emergency departments (EDs) of hospitals in 2018; 35% of those children were hospitalized or transferred for further treatment.

A child or male adolescent drowning is more likely than an adult drowning. Rates depend on race, gender, and age. As well as seizures and autism, other medical conditions can increase risk. The unintentional drowning rate in childhood has been decreasing steadily from 268 deaths per 100 000 in 1985 to 109 deaths per 100 000 in 2018. When victims of nonfatal drowning do not receive early bystander-initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), severe long-term neurologic deficits may result.

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Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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