May 24, 2010 in Nation/World

Swim lessons OK for kids younger than 4, doctors say

Carla K. Johnson Associated Press
 

Decline in drownings

The rate of childhood drowning deaths has declined in recent years. About 1,100 U.S. children drowned in 2006.

CHICAGO – The nation’s largest pediatricians group is relaxing its stance against swimming lessons for children younger than 4.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics has said swim classes might give toddlers and parents a false sense of security. Now the group says it’s fine to enroll children as young as 1.

A few small studies suggest toddlers may be less likely to drown if they’ve had swim lessons. The doctors aren’t recommending lessons for every young child. Some parents may feel their little ones aren’t ready and that’s OK.

Parents should choose classes that emphasize water safety and require a parent or other adult to be in the water with the child, said Connie Harvey who heads aquatics development for the American Red Cross and wasn’t involved in the doctors’ policy update.

The updated policy, released online today by the journal Pediatrics, also recommends fences around all pools, even popular inflatable ones.

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