Pediatric burn injuries in South Africa: A 15-year analysis of hospital data

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Journal Article

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Burns; Child injuries; Low- and middle-income countries; South Africa; Trauma; Unintentional injuries


Introduction: Burns are a significant burden of pediatric injuries, particularly in low and middle-income countries, were more than 90% of burn-related pediatric deaths occur. This study explores pediatric burn-related injuries over a fifteen year time period in South Africa through an analysis of a pediatric trauma surveillance system. Methods: This retrospective observational study used data collected by Childsafe South Africa from the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital (RCH) trauma registry in Cape Town, South Africa between 1995 and 2009 for children less than 13 years of age who presented with burn injuries to the hospital's casualty department. Demographic data and Abbreviated Injury Scores (AISs) were first assessed, followed by an analysis of time trends using Poisson regression. Logistic regression models were used to analyse factors related to hospital admissions. Results: Between 1995 and 2009, 9438 children with burn-related injuries presented to RCH, of which nearly three-quarters resulted from scalds (73%; n = 7024). The mean age of the injured children was 3.1 ± 2.9 years 58% were male. 11 deaths occurred in the hospital's casualty department. 39% of injuries were minor, 56% were moderate, and 5% were severe. During the 15-year study period, moderate burn injuries increased by 3%, while minor injuries decreased by 10% (p < 0.05). 49% of all children were admitted to the hospital. Hospital admissions increased by 3% (p < 0.05) during the study period. Conclusions: Pediatric burn injuries are a significant contributor to the burden of child diseases in developing county hospitals. Pediatric surveillance systems, such as Childsafe South Africa's, are important to study epidemiologic changes in burn injuries. Findings suggest the need for targeted interventions to address the prevention of specific burn-related injuries. © 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.