What are the race-related demographics of drowning?

Updated: Jun 19, 2019
  • Author: G Patricia Cantwell, MD, FCCM; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Between 2000 and 2007, the rate of fatal accidental drowning for African Americans across all ages was 1.3 times that of whites; for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, this rate was 1.7 times that of whites. [22] However, the relative rates vary with age. African-American children aged 0-4 years exhibit a lower rate of drowning (2.32 per 100,000), probably secondary to less pool access. In older pediatric age groups, the incidence is 2-5 times higher.

In indigenous children and teenagers in the United States and Canada, injuries account for 71% of childhood deaths. In Alaska, drowning is the leading cause of death among indigenous children.

Focused interventions have targeted indigenous groups in Alaska. Over a 20-year period (1982-84 vs 2002 vs 2004), the age-adjusted mortality rate declined 28%, compared with a 5% decline for the United States as a whole. This author suggests that developmentally and culturally appropriate interventions and community-based educational interventions, such as a requirement for wearing personal flotation devices, 4-sided fencing of pools, and the prohibition of alcohol sale to minors, can be highly effective. [47]

Between 1994 and 2005, drowning rates demonstrated an increase among white males 65 years and older and middle-aged white females (45-64 y) but showed a decrease in black boys, adolescents, and young adult males (5-24 y), black girls and adolescents (5-14 y), and white adolescents and young women (15-24 y). [48]

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