For years, pediatricians have advised against swimming lessons for young children. New research, however, indicates that there is no reason to wait until after a child’s fourth birthday if the parent feels the child is developmentally ready.

When a child should learn to swim is among the updates to the AAP policy and technical report, Prevention of Drowning (see Resources).

Included in the update is the revised definition of drowning by the World Congress on Drowning and World Health Organization: “The process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.” Drowning outcomes are now classified as death, no morbidity or morbidity, according to the policy statement. These changes will improve surveillance and collection of more reliable data.

Two case control studies cited in the policy and technical report indicate that swimming lessons may reduce drowning risk in small children. A 2009 study from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of...

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