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Open AccessReview

Aquatic Competencies and Drowning Prevention in Children 2–4 Years: A Systematic Review

1
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
2
Royal Life Saving Society—Australia, Broadway, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
3
College of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2033, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Safety 2020, 6(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/safety6020031
Received: 19 February 2020 / Revised: 22 May 2020 / Accepted: 15 June 2020 / Published: 21 June 2020
Aquatic competencies have been proposed as a prevention strategy for children aged 2–4 years who are over-represented in drowning statistics. For this recommendation to be made, exploration of the connection between aquatic competencies and drowning is required. This review critically analyzed studies exploring aquatic competencies and their effect on drowning and/or injury severity in children 2–4 years. English language peer-reviewed literature up to 31 July 2019 was searched and the PRISMA process utilized. Data were extracted from twelve studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Findings from this study included that aquatic competencies were not found to increase risk of drowning and demonstrated children aged 2–4 years are capable of developing age-appropriate aquatic competencies. Age-appropriate aquatic competencies extracted were propulsion/locomotion, flotation/buoyancy, water familiarization, submersion and water exits. The acquisition of these competencies holds benefit for the prevention of drowning. No evidence was found relating to injury severity. There was limited exploration of the relationship between aquatic competencies attainment and age-related developmental readiness. The review highlights the need for consistent measures of exposure, clarity around skills acquisition, better age-specific data (2 years vs. 3 years vs. 4 years), studies with larger sample sizes, further exploration of the dose–response relationship and consistent skill level testing across age groups. Further investigation is required to establish the efficacy of aquatic competencies as a drowning prevention intervention, as well as exploring the relationship between aquatic competencies and age-related developmental readiness. In conclusion, early evidence suggests aquatic competencies can help to reduce drowning. View Full-Text
Keywords: drowning; water safety; developmental readiness; aquatic competency; swimming skill; prevention; age-appropriate; child; neurodevelopment; learn to swim; risk drowning; water safety; developmental readiness; aquatic competency; swimming skill; prevention; age-appropriate; child; neurodevelopment; learn to swim; risk
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Taylor, D.H.; Franklin, R.C.; Peden, A.E. Aquatic Competencies and Drowning Prevention in Children 2–4 Years: A Systematic Review. Safety 2020, 6, 31.

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