Kids swimming pool accidents top cause of hospitalisations for 'near-drowning'

Swimming pool-related accidents are the most frequent cause of hospitalisations for near-drowning in Australia-with toddlers and young children most at risk, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Persisting morbidity among hospitalisations for near drowning, Australia 1997-98 presents national statistics on the number of hospital admissions for near-drowning, and looks at cases likely to need ongoing treatment.

The report shows that of the 831 hospital admissions for near-drowning during 1997-98, 236 were as a result of swimming pool accidents, with 86% of these involving children aged under 15 years.

Report author Malinda Steenkamp, from the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit at Flinders University, said adequate pool fencing and parental supervision were 'still extremely important in preventing such accidents because three-quarters of swimming pool-related accidents involved children less than four years old'.

About 1 in 4 hospital admissions for near-drowning occurred as a result of water-related sporting or recreational activities. Other causes included falling into natural water (81 admissions), boating activities (63), scuba diving-related activities (20), and water-skiing (11).

Of the 721 estimated incident cases of near-drowning, 35 resulted in ongoing illness, with 33 having either traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. Males accounted for 74% of these cases.

More than 60% of ongoing illness cases involved people aged between 10 and 39 years.

20 June 2002


Further information: Malinda Steenkamp, AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit, tel. 08 8374 0970
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, phone: 02 6244 1032