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The epidemiology of swimming pool injuries in The Netherlands

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Objective: To study the frequency and distribution of swimming pool injuries in The Netherlands. Data and methods: We used data of the Dutch Injury Surveillance System, which collects national data on patients treated in a hospital emergency department anywhere in The Netherlands. This system is based on a sample of 16 hospitals, which is representative for the whole country. With the help of pooled data for the years 1995 and 1996, we estimated the annual frequency of swimming pool injuries treated in a hospital emergency department. We made a comparison with the epidemiology of sports injuries with respect to the observed distribution by age, gender, type of injury and injury severity. Results: The average annual number of people seeking treatment at an emergency department after a swimming pool accident is small compared with the average annual number of sports injuries. Almost half of the swimming pool injuries (45%) concern 5–14 year-old children, a much higher proportion than found in sports injuries (27%). In addition, the relative importance of head injuries is considerably higher in swimming pool injuries (35%) than in sports injuries (12%). Swimming pool injuries and sports injuries have equal proportions of patients who are subsequently admitted to hospital (3%). Conclusion: The epidemiology of swimming pool injuries is characterized by a high proportion of 5–14 year-old children and a high share of head injuries. Although the frequency of swimming pool injuries is low, preventive efforts should not be neglected.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-06-01

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