Swimming lessons for 1-year-olds?

March 4, 2009 12:26:38 PM PST
Children as young as 1 may benefit from swimming lessons, a new study finds. Experts have long debated the value of swimming lessons for babies and toddlers, but the latest research suggests even very young children can reduce their risk of drowning by learning basic water-safety skills.

Nearly 7,000 American children die from drowning each year, and very young children are particularly at risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons only for children older than 5 because research has not proven the benefit of lessons in infants and toddlers.

But a new study may help change some pediatricians' minds.

Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Development interviewed the families of 88 children who drowned and compared them with more than 200 other families in the neighborhood whose children did not drown.

Among children aged 1 to 4 years old, just 2 percent of those who drowned had received swimming lessons, compared to 26 percent of those who were still alive.

Experts say that learning even basic water skills, such as floating or paddling for a few feet, may help save a child's life.

But they also remind parents never to leave young children unsupervised near pools or other bodies of water, because even water-smart kids can quickly get into trouble.


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