Drowning rate for young children continues to fall

20/02/2007 14:00

Approximately twenty young children annually drown. A quarter of a century ago, the drowning rate for children was approximately four times as high. Accidental death by drowning declined more among boys than among girls, but the drowning rate for boys is still about twice as high as for girls.

Drowning in children under the age of 10

Drowning in children under the age of 10

One third of victims younger than 10 years

Over the past 25 years, more than 2.7 thousand people accidentally drowned in the Netherlands. One third were children under the age of 10. Drowning is a relatively common cause of death for toddlers (2-4 years). Nearly one in every ten deaths in this age category was caused by drowning.
In nine out of ten cases, drowning is accidental. In a limited number of cases, traffic and murder play a part in drowning accidents. 

Drowning accidents by age, 2001-2005

Drowning accidents by age, 2001-2005

Victims mainly very young children

With an approximate annual rate of 3 per 100 thousand, the risk of drowning is highest for 2-year-olds. After congenital defects and meningitis, drowning is the third most important cause of death for 1-year-old children and even the main cause of death for boys aged between 2 and 5.
Over the past quarter of a century, 669 children under the age of 5 and 216 children aged between 5 and 10 drowned. Most cases of accidental drowning occur at an age when supervision by an older person might have prevented the accident.

Accidental drowning in children under the age of 10 by drowning location, 2003/2005

Accidental drowning in children under the age of 10 by drowning location, 2003/2005

Mostly in the immediate vicinity of the house

Approximately two-thirds of drowning all accidents involving children occur in or around the parental home. The victims are mostly toddlers who drown in a small garden pond or in water in the immediate vicinity of the parental home. Rarely, older children aged between 5 and 10 who are poor swimmers or cannot swim at all, drown in open swimming water or a swimming pool.

Jan Hoogenboezem and Joop Garssen