Thursday, July 2, 2009
From The National Institutes of Health
Under the direction of the NIH, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the findings concerning the debate on infant/child swim lessons in their update of March 2, 2009 were announced:
Providing very young children with swimming lessons appears to have a protective effect against drowning and does not increase childrens risk of drowning, reported researchers at the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers state that the findings should ease concerns among health professionals that giving swimming lessons to children from ages 1-4 years might indirectly increase drowning risk by making parents and caregivers less vigilant when children are near bodies of water.
"Swimming lessons are appropriate for consideration as part of a comprehensive drowning prevention strategy," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH Institute at which the study was conducted. "Because even the best swimmers can drown, swimming lessons are only one component of a comprehensive drowning prevention strategy that should include pool fencing, adult supervision, and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation."
The findings appear in the March Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
My comments: This is the first extensive study done. One day the researchers may also include the safety factor of "Summer Safety" that many swim schools have in their curriculum. La Petite Baleen was one of the first in the nation to have such a curriculum. Since we have known for decades that a child's brain is developed for gross motor skills from before birth to four years old, and the best window of opportunity to easily teach a child swimming is at this time. It is wonderful to see the two pieces of information coincide...finally! So often we have had amazing stories of our own students who have used their swim skills wisely to keep a situation from turning sad.