Background Most burns in children are scalds. The prevalence of abuse-related burns admitted to burns units is 10 to 14%. Provided local burns data is available a burns injury prevention programme is achievable. Our local population has a higher than national average of children requiring hospital admission due to injuries and significantly high number of children in social care or living in poverty.
Method A retrospective review was undertaken of all children (0–16 years) who attended our Paediatric Emergency Department with burns, from January 2011 to January 2012 to review age, sex, nature and site of burn including whether it was accidental or potentially inflicted, and outcome.
Results Of the total 23243 children who attended, 41% were aged 0–3 years, 34% were aged 4–10 years and 25% were aged 11–16 years. There were 263 burn injuries: 57% were aged 0–3 years, 24% were aged 410 years and 19% were aged 11–16 years. 9% of burns were potentially inflicted and these patients were referred to the inpatient team and/or the Regional Burns Unit. Scalds (49%) and thermal contact burns (36%) were the commonest burns. The commonest sites of accidental burns were hand (27%) and upper arm (16%). The commonest site of potentially inflicted burns was the hand (12%).
Conclusion There is a relatively high incidence of burn injuries in pre-school children. Given the background risks, targeted intervention involving pre-school children needs to be put in place through community and social care to educate parents and offer guidance on home safety awareness.