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Updated Guidelines on Preventing Drowning Deaths for Children

June 3, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - The summer swimming season is here, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its guidelines on how to keep children safe around water. The AAP has long recommended swimming lessons for children ages four and older. Now, new evidence suggests kids between the ages of one and four also could benefit from formal lessons.

That finding is noted in the updated AAP advice, says emergency room physician Denise Dowd, who served on the committee that helped create the guidelines.

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

Dowd says parents should base their decision on their child's physical abilities and gauge their fear of water. And she points out that swimming lessons alone are not a complete prevention. She says 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: Think in terms of layers of protection."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina loses about 25 youngsters each year to accidental drownings. While drowning deaths have declined nationwide over the last 20 years, they remain the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to 19.

More AAP advice is available at www.aap.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - NC