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Epidemiology of paediatric drowning hospitalisations in the USA: a population-based study


Background Drowning is a leading cause of death in children ≤5 years old. Detailed data on the epidemiology of drowning in this high-risk population can inform preventative efforts. We aimed to study trends in incidence and case fatality rates (CFR) in the USA among young children hospitalised after drowning.

Methods Children ≤5 years old hospitalised in the USA after drowning were identified from the Kids Inpatient Database 2000–2016. Incidence and CFRs by calendar year, age, sex, race/ethnicity and hospital region were calculated. Trends over time were evaluated. Factors associated with fatal drowning were assessed.

Results Among 30 560 804 hospitalised children ≤5 years old, 9261 drowning cases were included. Patients were more commonly male (62.3%) and white (47.4%). Two years old had the highest incidence of hospitalisation after drowning, regardless of race/ethnicity, sex and region. Overall drowning hospitalisations decreased by 49% from 2000 to 2016 (8.38–4.25 cases per 100 000 children). The mortality rate was 11.4% (n=1060), and most occurred in children ≤3 years old (83.0%). Overall case fatality decreased between 2000 and 2016 (risk ratio (RR) 0.44, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.56). The lowest reduction in incidence and case fatality was observed among Black children (Incidence RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.13; case fatality RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.41 to 1.58).

Conclusions Hospitalisations and CFRs for drowning among children ≤5 years old have decreased from 2000 to 2016. Two years old are at the highest risk of both fatal and non-fatal drowning. Disparities exist for Black children in both the relative reduction in drowning hospitalisation incidence and case fatality. Interventions should focus on providing equitable preventative care measures to this population.

  • drowning
  • child
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

No data are available. Data are available through the HCUP KIDS database.

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