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Updated Guidelines On Preventing Drowning Deaths For Children

June 2, 2010

PHOENIX - The summer swimming season is here and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its guidelines on keeping young children safe around water. The group has long recommended swimming lessons for children ages four and older, but new evidence shows kids from one to four years of age are also less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction.

Dr. Denise Dowd served on the committee that helped create this policy. She points out that lessons are just one aspect of protecting young children in the water.

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

Dowd, an emergency room physician, advises parents to base their decision on their child's physical abilities and gauge their fear of the water, as well as how frequently they're exposed to water.

She notes that learning how to swim is not the only answer to preventing drownings – supervision is equally, if not more, important.

"It's not just one thing that helps prevent drowning; it's actually multiple layers of things. That's really the take-home message for parents, is that they think in terms of layers of protection."

While drowning deaths have declined over the last 20 years, they remain the second leading cause of death for children, from ages one to 19.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ