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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 May 16;63(19):421-6.

Racial/ethnic disparities in fatal unintentional drowning among persons aged ≤ 29 years - United States, 1999-2010.


In the United States, almost 4,000 persons die from drowning each year. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged 1-4 years than any other cause except congenital anomalies. For persons aged ≤29 years, drowning is one of the top three causes of unintentional injury death (2). Previous research has identified racial/ethnic disparities in drowning rates. To describe these differences by age of decedent and drowning setting, CDC analyzed 12 years of combined mortality data from 1999-2010 for those aged ≤29 years. Among non-Hispanics, the overall drowning rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) was twice the rate for whites, and the rate for blacks was 1.4 times the rate for whites. Disparities were greatest in swimming pools, with swimming pool drowning rates among blacks aged 5-19 years 5.5 times higher than those among whites in the same age group. This disparity was greatest at ages 11-12 years; at these ages, blacks drown in swimming pools at 10 times the rate of whites. Drowning prevention strategies include using barriers (e.g., fencing) and life jackets, actively supervising or lifeguarding, teaching basic swimming skills and performing bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The practicality and effectiveness of these strategies varies by setting; however, basic swimming skills can be beneficial across all settings.

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