Fifteen years of child drowning--a 1967-1981 analysis of all fatal cases from the Brisbane Drowning Study and an 11 year study of consecutive near-drowning cases

Accid Anal Prev. 1986 Jun;18(3):199-203. doi: 10.1016/0001-4575(86)90003-5.


A total population study of childhood fresh water drowning accidents (fatalities) for the 15 year period, 1967-1981, is reported. These data are from the ongoing Brisbane Drowning Study which has now also analysed 255 fresh water child immersions (both fatalities and near-fatalities) over the eleven year period, 1978-1981, and as such forms a consecutive unselected series for over one decade. The annual fatality (drowning) rate is 3.53 per 100,000. Details of immersion accidents by site, sex and by outcome (survivors versus fatalities) are presented. An analysis of secular trends revealed that one epidemic peak of child drownings in swimming pools and domestic baths (noted in the mid 1970s in Australia and other countries) is now passed. Evidence is presented to suggest that a vigorous education, and public awareness campaign can reduce the incidence of serious child immersion accidents by one-third. Such a campaign may have influence on all types of childhood household drownings (pools, baths, garden ponds), irrespective of site. Survival rates for unsupervised children who lose consciousness in fresh water are site-dependent, only 21% of such potential victims surviving after losing consciousness in rivers and creeks, compared with the survival rate of 65% for those in potential drowning incidents in their own backyard. Violent death continues to account for more than half of all deaths in childhood up to the age of 14 years [Gratz, 1979; Mayer, Walker and Johnson et al., 1981].(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drowning / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fresh Water
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Swimming Pools