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The research paper, ‘Quantifying fatal and non-fatal drowning among children under five in Aotearoa, New Zealand’, is pending publication in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Co-authored by WSNZ’s Karen Richardson and Dr Amy Peden from the University of NSW, Australia, the study concludes that drowning is a preventable cause of fatal and non-fatal injury and a health system burden.

Drowning disproportionately impacts children and young people, with half of the global burden of  fatal drowning occurring among people under 25 years of age. However, drowning is not only fatal, with outcomes including morbidity or no morbidity (defined as non-fatal drowning).

Available data indicates significantly more people are impacted by non-fatal drowning. Global drowning statistics highlight the greatest fatal drowning burden among children aged 0-4

years. Similarly, children under five are overrepresented in cases of hospitalisation due to nonfatal drowning. Domestic water hazards such as baths for children under one and home

swimming pools and creeks and streams for children between the ages of one and four years pose the greatest risk.

While investment in prevention efforts is contributing to a reduction in fatal drowning among the Under five age group in New Zealand, non-fatal drownings are increasing, representing a significant personal, social and health system burden.

The authors conclude that Investment in prevention efforts must be focused on culturally and linguistically diverse groups (children and parents/caregivers) and identify strategies to achieve reductions in non-fatal drownings, as have been seen in fatal incidents. Investment in effective prevention for this age group will deliver significant social, economic and health system savings and WSNZ is well-placed to monitor impacts across the full burden of drowning.

Read the draft manuscript here.

Research into Under Fives fatal and non-fatal drownings

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