Childhood drowning in New South Wales 1990-1995: a population-based study

Med J Aust. 1996 Dec;165(11-12):610-2. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1996.tb138663.x.


Objective: To review the circumstances of children drowning in New South Wales (NSW), 1990-1995, and to analyse trends.

Design: The NSW Paediatric Trauma Death Review Data Unit received coronial notification of childhood drowning deaths. Age-specific annual drowning rates per 100,000 population were calculated.

Subjects: Children aged 0-14 years who died of drowning.

Results: 132 children drowned (96[73%] aged 0-4 years). There was was an overall decrease in incidence of drowning, from 2.0 to 1.5 per 100,000 population, and a decline in domestic pool drownings (from a peak of 15 in 1992 to five in 1995), and in drownings in waterways (from nine to six over the six-year period). However, drownings in baths and dams did not decrease. In general, boys were at higher risk than girls.

Conclusions: Analysis of the drowning incidents indicates that, despite the decreases documented, we should not be complacent, and preventive programs are still warranted. All pools and dams should have well maintained fences between the body of water and the house. All infants aged under three and all epileptic children should be supervised in the bath by an adult. Children should be taught to swim, warned of the dangers of rivers and surf, and adequately supervised.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drowning / epidemiology*
  • Drowning / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors