Background: Although the recent decline in child mortality in Bangladesh is remarkable, death from causes other than infectious diseases and malnutrition remains an important component of child mortality. Death from drowning of children can be expected to be a problem in Bangladesh given the geographical features of the country.
Objective: The objectives of this study are to determine the trend, pattern, and correlates of drowning deaths.
Methods: Data are presented on deaths of children (1-4 years) due to drowning derived from a longitudinal, population-based surveillance system in operation in a rural area of Bangladesh in 1983-1995. Moreover, a case-control study was carried out to identify the risk factors associated with drowning.
Results: Deaths due to drowning ranged from about 10% to 25% of child deaths during 1983-1995. The absolute risk of dying from drowning remained almost the same over the study period but the proportion of drownings to all causes of death has increased. Drowning is especially prevalent in the second year of life. Age of the mother and parity have a significant impact on drowning. The risk of dying from drowning increases with the age of mother and much more sharply with the number of living children in the family. Two socioeconomic variables did not have an influence on the risk of drowning.
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of child deaths could be averted if parents and other close relatives paid more attention to the safety of children. The Child Health Programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh should develop health education programmes for villagers alerting them to the dangers of drowning and measures to prevent it.
PIP: A study based upon verbal autopsies conducted in a sample of children who died in Bangladesh during 1989-92 found that approximately 21% of deaths among children aged 1-4 years were due to drowning. Such mortality may be expected in Bangladesh, for its villages are usually surrounded and intersected by canals and rivers, and there are many ponds surrounding households which are used for bathing and washing year round. Children also play in these bodies of water, and most villages are inundated by the monsoon for several months each year. Drawn from the Matlab Demographic Surveillance System (DSS) operated by the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), data are presented on the mortality of children aged 1-4 years due to drowning in Matlab thana, a rural area of Bangladesh, during 1983-95. 10-25% of child deaths during 1983-95 were due to drowning. The absolute risk of dying from drowning remained almost the same over the study period, but the proportion of drownings to all causes of death increased. Drowning is especially prevalent during the second year of life. Mother's age and parity significantly affect drowning, with the risk of dying from drowning increasing with mother's age and far more sharply with the number of living children in the family. Maternal education and dwelling space had no influence upon the risk of drowning. A major portion of these deaths could be averted if parents and other close relatives paid more attention to child safety.