Friday, June 18, 2010

Swimming Lessons can Save your Child's Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a new stance on swimming lessons for very young kids.

"The most important message of the new policy statement is not so much that we're relaxing our policy on swimming lessons but that swimming lessons are part of a multifaceted drowning-prevention scheme that includes careful, capable supervision and a good pool safety fence or pool barrier," said Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, the statement's lead author.

In the past, the Academy had said that children weren't developmentally ready for swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday. But based on recent research, the academy is now "saying it's sort of a parent's call," said Weiss, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If parents want their 1- to 4-year-old children to have swimming lessons, "we don't see any major dangers in that," he said. In making the decision, parents should consider such factors as how often the child is exposed to water, how mature the child is, physical limitations and any swimming-related health concerns, such as the risk of infectious illnesses and lung problems, the policy statement says. Also, "children need to be taught never to swim alone and not to swim without adult supervision," the statement says.

It's also important for kids to seek their parents' OK, said Mary Duke Connell, aquatic director at the Baptist East/Milestone Wellness Center. "With all the private lessons and group lessons that we teach, we have the children ask their parents (or another trusted adult for) permission to go swimming, so that they get in the habit of letting their parents know whenever they want to be in and around the water," Connell said. "It's just so important to stress safety around a pool."

To read more about this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Click Here.

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