Dangerous behavior in water may lead to death

August 1, 2015

Dangerous underwater breath-holding behaviors (DUBBs) while swimming have led to deaths among teenagers.

Dangerous underwater breath-holding behaviors (DUBBs) have led to deaths among teenagers. Of 16  cases in New York State from 1988 to 2011, 4 fatalities were in individuals aged 17 to 22 years who were advanced or expert swimmers. Types of DUBB include intentional hyperventilation before or during submergence/swimming; static apnea (attempted breath-holding for as long as possible while submerged); and hypoxic training (prolonged underwater distance swimming or extended breath-hold intervals). Most DUBB incidents have been in males (Boyd C, et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64[19]:518-521). 

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Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. She has nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.