[Skip to Navigation]
September 1982

Submersion Accidents in Children With Epilepsy

Author Affiliations

From the Pediatric and Surgical Intensive Care Units, Division of Anesthesiology (Dr Orlowski), Section of Pediatric Neurology, Center for Children and Youth (Dr Rothner), and Department of Neurology (Dr Lueders), The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Am J Dis Child. 1982;136(9):777-780. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1982.03970450019004

• The risks of submersion accidents, both drowning and near-drowning, for children with seizure disorders were calculated from the present study of six children with epilepsy in a total group of 100 children with postsubmersion syndrome and from five other reported studies. Analysis of data shows that the risk for patients with seizure disorders is four times that of the normal population. Persons with epilepsy should never swim without a lifeguard or competent swimmer being aware of the diagnosis and keeping close surveillance while they are swimming. Hyperventilation, a normal occurrence while swimming, may predispose patients with epilepsy to seizures and submersion accidents by increasing the propensity to seizures. In this study, three of the victims had at least one anticonvulsant drug level within the therapeutic range immediately after the submersion accident. Therapeutic drug levels are no guarantee that seizures will not occur during swimming.

(Am J Dis Child 1982;136:777-780)