Preventing childhood burns and scalds

February 12, 2014

Understanding how children typically burn and scald themselves is the first step toward prevention, say researchers from the United Kingdom.

 

Understanding how children typically burn and scald themselves is the first step toward prevention, say researchers from the United Kingdom.

They conducted a multicenter, cross-sectional study involving 1,215 children who presented to 1 of 9 UK facilities with an unintentional burn or scald. Slightly more than half (58%) had scalds; about one-third (32%) had contact burns; and the remainder had burns from other causes. About 18% were admitted to the hospital. The rest were treated in the emergency department or a burn assessment center. Almost three-quarters of the children (72%) were aged younger than 5 years, with the peak age of injury at around 1 year.

The most common scalding culprit was a cup or mug of a hot beverage, and the most common mechanism was a child trying to pull the hot item down from or off a surface.

In the 5- to 16-year-old age group, about half of all scalds were from hot water and about three-quarters were from spills. Scalds in the group of children aged younger than 5 years almost always affected the front of the body, such as the face, arms, and/or upper trunk. Older children more commonly had scalds on the lower trunk, legs, and hands.

With regard to contact burns, 81% of those occurring in children aged younger than 5 years were from touching hot things in the home, most often hair straighteners and curling irons, followed by oven/stove burners. Older children sustained more outdoor injuries. Two-thirds of all contact burns involved the hands.

According to the Burn Foundation, each year a quarter of a million children aged younger than 17 years are burned seriously enough to require medical attention. About 15,000 of those require hospitalization, and about 1,100 die. 

 

 

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