Approximately 6,500 children experience diving-related injuries every year, according to first-of-its-kind new research.

The study, by a team at Nationwide Children?s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, was published in the August edition of the journal Pediatrics. Researchers looked at Consumer Product Safety Commission?s emergency room statistics from 1990 to 2006.

According to data, which incorporated recreational and competitive diving, approximately 111,00 persons under the age of 20 visited emergency care facilities for diving-related injuries during this 16-year period. The study did not distinguish between injuries at public facilities and residential pools.

Kids ages 10 to 14 made up most of the cases, and boys are more likely to be affected than girls. Most injuries (approximately 60 percent) were cuts and bruises. Only 5 percent required hospital stays. Collision with diving boards or platforms caused most injuries (44 percent), and performing flips, handstands or backward dives increased the odds of injury from contact with the diving surface.

?More than 80 percent [of injuries] occurred from a height of less than 1 meter,? said Lara McKenzie a lead researcher on the study.

Proper diving board maintenance, instruction and education on safety and diving technique are key, McKenzie added.

Following are additional safety recommendations:

  • Visible depth indicators should be marked prominently.
  • When possible, install soft pool bottoms.
  • Teach children not to jump into shallow or cloudy water.
  • Make proper stretching and strengthening part of a competitive diving program to help prevent shoulder injuries.