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Updated Guidelines On Preventing Drowning Deaths For Children

June 1, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The unofficial start of summer is here, and that means many kids are jumping in the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised guidelines on how to keep these children safe. The AAP has long recommended swimming lessons for children age four and older, but new evidence shows kids ages one to four are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons.

Doctor Denise Dowd, an emergency room physician with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, served on the committee that helped create this policy. She says swimming lessons are one aspect of protecting young children in the water.

"It's not that the AAP recommends swimming lessons for kids under four years of age, but that parents consider it."

Dowd says parents should base their decision on their children's physical abilities and gauge their fear of the water, along with how frequently they are exposed to the water.

Dowd says swimming lessons alone are not the answer to prevent a drowning. Supervision is equally - if not more - important, she points out.

"It's not just one thing that helps prevents drowning, it's actually multiple layers of things. That's really the take-home message for parents: Think in terms of layers of protection."

While drowning deaths have declined over the last 20 years, it still remains the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 19.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO