UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric drowning what are the risk factors?

Keywords: Drowning, near drowning, CXR (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/18/2023 by Jennifer Guyther, MD (Updated: 6/16/2024)
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This was a retrospective study involving several hospitals in Italy.  135 patients who had drowned (the term used in the article) were included.  4.5% of patients died.  Most drowning occurred in July and August.  The most common comorbidity was epilepsy in about 10% of patients.  Several patients were also witnessed to have trauma and syncope.  Early resuscitation, either by bystanders or trained professionals, was paramount in survival. 

Children who are conscious at presentation and have mild or no respiratory distress have the best prognosis.  A well appearing child should be observed for 6-8 hours, given that 98% of children will present with symptoms within the first 7 hours.  A chest xray is not indicated in the asymptomatic patient.  Patients who are submerged greater than 25 minutes or without ROSC after 30 minutes have a poor prognosis.

Bottom line: Never swim alone and everyone should be trained in bystander CPR.