They are always among the saddest stories we read all summer - infant drowning accident. As another summer approaches, this somber subject is in the news again, but this time with a more positive spin as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released figures that indicate infant drowning deaths have declined. 

The report claims unintentional drowning deaths in the United States decreased 9 percent between 1999 and 2010 with the sharpest drop coming with infants under 1 year of age.

The CDC study shows drowning death rates decreased 45.6 percent for infants (under 1 year of age), 17.5 percent for children aged 1-4 years, and 30.2 percent for persons aged 5-19 years.

However, for adults ag 85 and over, drowning death rates actually increased 21.7 percent from 1999 through 2005 and then the figures show a 36 percent decrease by 2010, with a fluctuation between 2005 and 2008. Death rates increased 9.7 percent over the 12 years examined for adults aged 45-84.

The CDC report doesn't explore reasons for the decline in the younger demographic or give specifics for the increase in the older people drowning. But some in the public heath sector believe increased public awareness as a probable reason.

"There have been efforts at education from a variety of groups," said Stephen Bowman, an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "One would think that those messages are getting across."

Despite the decrease in deaths among youth, for boys aged 1-4 years drowning was the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in 2010, followed by motor vehicle traffic incidents. The CDC report added the number of motor vehicle traffic deaths decreased from 1999 through 2010 for both boys and girls, whereas unintentional drowning deaths did not.

As for where the drownings are occurring the study shows people drowned in places ranging from bath tubs to natural water, with natural water, not surprisingly, being the most frequent drowning location accounting for 47.2 percent of all unintentional drowning deaths (including  drowning deaths while boating), followed by other/unspecified places (26.8 percent), swimming pools  (16.3 percent), and bath tubs (9.7 percent).

A total of 46,419 Americans died from accidental drowning between 1999 and 2010 according to the CDC - an average of 3,868 deaths a year. 

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