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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000220981.54069.b8
Original Article

Pediatric Drowning: A 20-Year Review of Autopsied Cases: III. Bathtub Drownings

Somers, Gino R. MD, PhD*†; Chiasson, David A. MD*†; Smith, Charles R. MD*†

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Abstract

Bathtub drownings are a significant cause of mortality in the pediatric population. Infants and preambulatory children are disproportionately affected, and several studies have suggested that preventative campaigns have been ineffective in the prevention of such deaths. To obtain a better understanding of the factors associated with bathtub drownings, a retrospective review of autopsy records over a 20-year period (1984–2003) was performed. Eighteen consecutive cases of bathtub drownings were identified in 8 males and 10 females (ratio, 0.8; P = 0.6374). The age ranged from 6 months to 70 months (mean, 17 months; median, 11 months), and most cases occurred in infants aged 12 months or less (72%). Males tended to be older than females (mean, 23 months versus 11 months; P = 0.1889). Associated factors included inadequate adult supervision (89%), cobathing (39%), the use of infant bath seats (17%), and coexistent medical disorders predisposing the infant or child to the drowning episode (17%). The pathologic findings included a frothy exudate (28%), pleural effusion (28%), and increased lung weight (61%). All toxicologic samples submitted for analysis were negative. The present study highlights the factors associated with bathtub drownings and may aid in the prevention of such deaths in the pediatric population.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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