The purpose of this study was to determine the risk of submersion injury and drowning among children with epilepsy and to define further specific risk factors. In a population-based retrospective cohort study the authors identified and reviewed records of all 0- through 19-year-old residents of King County Washington, who suffered a submersion incident between 1974 and 1990. Children with epilepsy were compared with those without epilepsy with regard to age, sex, site of incident, supervision, outcome, and presence of preexisting handicap. Relative risks were determined using population-based estimates of epilepsy prevalence. Of 336 submersions, 21 (6%) occurred among children with epilepsy. Children with epilepsy were more likely to be greater than 5 years old (86% vs 47%) and more likely to submerge in a bathtub (38% vs 11%). The relative risk of submersion for children with epilepsy was 47 (95% confidence interval [CI] 22 to 100) in the bathtub and 18.7 (95% CI 9.8 to 35.6) in the pool. The relative risk of drowning for children with epilepsy was 96 (95% CI 33 to 275) in the bathtub and 23.4 (95% CI 7.1 to 77.1) in the pool. These data support an increased risk of submersion and drowning among children with epilepsy.

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