Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Drowning risks to epileptic children: a study from Hawaii.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 04 November 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:1284
  1. J Pearn,
  2. R Bart,
  3. R Yamaoka


    The role of epileptiform seizures in causing drowning and near-drowning among children was studied by examining the case reports of all 140 childhood immersion accidents that occurred in an area of Hawaii over five years. Four of the 140 immersion accidents were caused partly by epileptiform seizures, but none were fatal. The combined results of the Hawaiian and Brisbane studies (total population studied over five years 1 600 000) showed that no epileptic children died from accidents in the sea or in swimming pools; and the 2.9% incidence of immersion accidents due to seizures in the Hawaiian study compares well with the incidence found in other series. If an epileptic child is mentally normal, well controlled with anticonvulsants, and supervised in the water then the risk of drowning is very small.