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'Diaper Diving' Strategy Can End in Drowning

August 08, 1993

I must protest your story "Deep Down Diaper Divers" (June 13). As an injury epidemiologist, I am confronted all too frequently with young children who drown or nearly drown.

The message carried by your story may be misleading for many parents of babies, toddlers and young children. Swimming lessons are not a recommended strategy for drowning prevention for children younger than 4 or 5.

Approximately 25% of the children who drown or nearly drown have had swimming lessons. Such lessons may actually increase the risk for small children, since the purpose of such lessons is to reduce the child's fear of water. Lessons may also give parents a false sense of security.

Please remind the public that a small child can drown in a small amount of water. Drowning is a silent injury, and it takes just a few minutes for a child to sustain permanent severe brain damage from a near-drowning episode.

BILLIE P. WEISS, Director

Injury Prevention and Control Project County of Los Angeles

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