The Role of Bath Seats in Unintentional Infant Bathtub Drowning Deaths
by Kimberly M. Thompson, Medscape General Medicine. 5(1) (March 26, 2003). Available at: PDF

Press Release - April 14, 2003
Press coverage - Dr. Thompson released this study on March 26, 2003 at the first called Kids Risk Symposium., which was covered in the Harvard Gazette. Dr. Thompson talked about the bath seat paper August 8, 2003 on NPR's Morning Edition, and the CPSC considered comments from Dr. Thompson based on her preliminary analysis in the context of its discussions about bath seats and infant drowning.

Every year, over 100 infants and young children die from drowning in bath tubs. These completely preventable, tragic deaths occur when caregivers leave children unattended in the bath. Although these deaths do not regularly make the news, they occur at a rate of more than 1 child drowning out of one million infants each year. Based on a risk analysis of bathtub drowning deaths, this study concluded that increases in reported market sales of bath seats, which were also empirically observed in surveys of reported bath seat use, were not associated with increases in unintentional infant bathtub drowning risks, and could have possible decreased drowning risks. This study emphasizes that too many infants tragically drown every year when left unattended in bathtubs, whether or not in a bath seat. The study suggests the need for rigorous risk analyses when considering the potential regulation of products to ensure that regulation does not inadvertently increase injury risks, and it emphasizes the need to focus on the infant bathtub drowning prevention message: NEVER LEAVE ANY CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE BATHTUB. The bottom line is that kids do not die in bath tubs from unintentional drowning unless they are left in the bath without competent adult supervision. This study gratefully acknowledged funding from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, which was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This study led to other drowning-related studies::

Lee LK, Thompson KM. Parental survey of beliefs and practices about bathing and water safety and their children: Guidance for drowning prevention. Accident Analysis and Prevention 2007;39(1):58-62.

Lee LK, Mao C, Thompson KM. Demographic factors and their association with outcomes in pediatric submersion injury. Acad Emerg Med. 2006;13(3);308-313.

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