In the United States, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1 to 19 years, accounting for nearly 1100 deaths per year. Although a decline in overall fatal drowning deaths among children has been noted, national trends and disparities in pediatric drowning hospitalizations have not been reported.
To describe trends in pediatric drowning in the United States and provide national benchmarks for state and regional comparisons, we analyzed existing data (1993–2008) from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest, longitudinal, all-payer inpatient care database in the United States. Children aged 0 to 19 years were included. Annual rates of drowning-related hospitalizations were determined, stratified by age, gender, and outcome.
From 1993 to 2008, the estimated annual incidence rate of pediatric hospitalizations associated with drowning declined 49% from 4.7 to 2.4 per 100 000 (P < .001). The rates declined for all age groups and for both males and females. The hospitalization rate for males remained consistently greater than for females at each point in time. Rates of fatal drowning hospitalization declined from 0.5 (95% confidence interval, 0.4–0.7) deaths per 100 000 in 1993–1994 to 0.3 (95% confidence interval, 0.2–0.4) in 2007–2008 (P < .01). No difference was observed in the mean hospital length of stay over time.
Pediatric hospitalization rates for drowning have decreased over the past 16 years. Our study provides national estimates of pediatric drowning hospitalization that can be used as benchmarks to target and assess prevention strategies.