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MONONA (WMSN) -- Every year, more than 500 children under age 4 die because of drowning, according to the CDC.



It's the second leading cause of death among children.



Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is changing its long-standing view on swimming lessons, in an effort to prevent tragedies in the water.



Until now, the AAP recommended against swim lessons, saying they did not reduce the risk of drowning, and gave parents a false sense of security. Now, they are cautiously revising their policy.



"Toddler swim lessons should not be with the intent of drown-proofing a child, but they are great for getting a child used to the water and enjoying the water," said Dr. Joanne Taylor, Dean pediatrician and swim coach. "I swam with my children at a very young age. They were all in the water with me at six months and up."



Dr. Taylor agrees with the AAP's decision change, and says early exposure to water has many health and athletic benefits, and can help reduce the risk of drowning.



"They could get to a position where they could float, and kick, and get assistance right away," she said.



Plus, she says, it's a great family activity. Don't push kids the get in the water though. Dr. Taylor says parents should decide when their children are developmentally ready to dive in.



"Our goal with swim lessons has to be to make the child more comfortable in the water and not scared to death. I can't say any swim program is ever going to drown-proof a child."



Pediatricians say never allow children near water unsupervised, including pools, bathtubs, and toilets.

Swim lessons for toddlers

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