Aims: The goal of this research project was to explore circumstances surrounding each drowning death occurring to children and adolescents ages 0-17 in Sweden during the years 1998-2007.
Methods: Records from the National Board of Forensic Medicine (NBFM) and other sources were analysed. We collected information on children's personal characteristics (sex, age, ethnic background, weight, height, physical condition, and pre-existing health conditions) and the circumstances of deaths (time and place of occurrence, type of drowning, resuscitation efforts and medical care given, for example). We also collected information on prevention factors: the physical environment, adult supervision, whether or not the child could swim, and if the child was using a personal flotation device at the time of death.
Results: Our analysis showed that 109 children had drowned in Sweden during the study period - of this group, 96 had died from unintentional causes. Children from immigrant backgrounds, particularly with families coming from the Middle East and Iran, were inordinately represented in the group of victims who had died from unintentional drowning deaths. Other risk factors included: coming from a single parent-headed family, alcohol use by older victims and a lack of ability to swim.
Conclusions: Prevention efforts to prevent drowning in the future should focus on preventing alcohol use by young bathers; better fencing around swimming sites; improved coverage of swimming lessons to all children in Sweden, especially children from immigrant families; more education on drowning risks for single parents; and better awareness by adults on the need for constant supervision of children and adolescents in and near water.