The study found a 40 percent drop in hospital visits following bathtub-related drownings among children under 4 years old and a 50 percent decline in swimming-related hospital trips for children ages 10 to 14. In warmer parts of the country, drowning injuries declined by almost 50 percent during the study period.
"We wanted to create some benchmarks," so that various states and regions could measure their progress against national trends, Bowman said.
While the number of drowning deaths and injuries has dropped, the cost of medical treatment has remained about the same because expenses per case have grown, Bowman said.
"The relative cost per drowning case has risen dramatically and offsets the reduction in hospitalizations," Bowman said.
In 2000, costs associated with such injuries exceeded $5.3 billion, including $2.6 billion for children up to 14 years old, the study said.
The reason for the decline in drowning cases among the youngest children may be "targeted injury-prevention efforts" aimed at parents and caregivers of young children, the study said.
For children of all ages, other factors in reduced drowning rates include education, public health initiatives and safety legislation, according to the head of an organization devoted to preventing accidental childhood injury and death.
Kate Carr, chief executive officer of Safe Kids Worldwide, cited federal legislation passed in 2007 requiring pool and hot tub drains to have covers and calling for other safety measure to be taken by states. The law followed the drowning death of a child whose mother was unable to free her from the suction of a hot-tub drain.
"You can see that it is working. It is not the only thing, but it is one thing that has worked," Carr said.
The study is important, she said, because it helps safety organiza
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