The majority of people who survive a near-drowning in childhood will not suffer significantly as adults.
A decade after the event, most kids reported a similar quality of life as peers without the near-death experience.
However, it's important that doctors keep an eye on these patients over the years after the accident, as thinking, memory, and learning problems may not show up until the kid is much older, said study author Dr. Pertti Suominen.
And the specific nature of the near-drowning, including how long kids were under water, could matter for their long-term health and happiness as well.
"In patients with an estimated submersion time of 10 minutes or longer the (quality of life) was significantly lower than in patients with a submersion time less than 10 minutes," said Suominen.
Researchers tracked 64 kids who had been admitted to their intensive care unit between 1985 and 2007 following a near-drowning when the kid had to be given CPR
. Eleven of the kids died in the hospital, and nine more died within six months from a brain injury related to the accident.
Out of the 40 patients still alive that the authors could track down, 29 returned questionnaires asking about their current thinking and communication skills, activities they were involved in, how much school they had completed, and whether they suffered from depression or had trouble sleeping
For most of the people in the study, the near-drowning in the sea, a lake, or a community pool happened when they were very young, on average about 10 years before they filled in the questionnaires.
Teenagers and young adults reported slightly lower quality of life compared to a group of people who hadn't almost drowned
. But in kids age 11 and younger, there was no difference. Kids under eight reported the best quality of life of all near-drowning survivors, but Suominen said that may be because their parents filled out the questionnaires for them.
Fourteen of the teens and young adults said they had finished their education, although only one had a university degree, the authors report in Resuscitation.
Kids had been underwater between 30 seconds and 45 minutes. Those who were drowning for longer reported a worse quality of life than others.
Dr. Aaron Donoghue, an emergency medicine doctor at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that how quickly and intensely kids get CPR after this kind of accident is also an important factor in determining if they'll survive and if they do, how well they'll do later on.
Suominen concluded that most kids who survive near-drowning will go on to have a decent quality of life.Do you know anyone who has survived a near-drowning?