What are the sex- and age-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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Males are approximately 4 times more likely than females to have submersion injuries. This rate is consistent with increased risk-taking behavior in boys, especially in adolescence. Males are also 12 times more likely than females to be involved in a boat-related drowning; alcohol use is frequently a contributing factor. Only in bathtub incidents do girls predominate in incidence.

A bimodal age distribution is noted in persons with a submersion injury. Children younger than 4 years and adolescents aged 15-19 years are at highest risk. This bimodal distribution is predominantly observed in males, who have a much higher incidence of submersion injuries during adolescence than females do. Most toddlers drown in swimming pools and bathtubs, whereas most adolescents drown in natural bodies of water.

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