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Neurocognitive outcomes in children following immersion: a long-term study


Objective To investigate long-term neurocognitive outcomes after a near-drowning incident in children who were deemed neurologically intact on discharge from hospital.

Design A prospective cohort study of near-drowning children.

Setting 95 drowning and near-drowning admissions, 0–16 years of age, from January 2009 to December 2013, to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Participants 23 children both met the criteria and had parental consent for the study.

Main outcome measures Identification of the long-term deficits in behaviour, executive function, motor skills, communicative skills and well-being over a 5-year period. Assessment was undertaken at 3–6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years after near-drowning at clinic visits. Physical developmental screening and executive function screening were done using Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool version (BRIEF-P) and BRIEF.

Result 95 drowning and near-drowning episodes occurred during the study period. 10 (11%) children died, 28 were admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit and 64 directly to a ward. 3 children died in emergency department, 7 children had severe neurological deficit on discharge from the hospital. 23 were subsequently recruited into the study; 5 (22%) of these children had abnormalities in behaviour and/or executive function at some during their follow-up.

Conclusion Children admitted to hospital following a near-drowning event warrant long-term follow-up to identify any subtle sequelae which might be amenable to intervention to ensure optimal patient outcome.

  • Near-drowning
  • Long-term Effects
  • Neurocognitive Outcomes
  • Immersion
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