Background: Burns is a global problem and has its toll especially in a developing region like ours where poverty and ignorance are still rife. Previous studies in the sub-region have lumped children and adults together. We retrospectively studied the factors that lead to burns in children and the peculiarities in managing them.
Methods: All case notes of burns injury in children managed at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital between 1991-2000 were retrospectively studied.
Results: A total of 219 children were studied. Children of age below 5 years were affected more than children above 5 years (168 vs. 51) with toddlers 1-2 years constituting a significant proportion of those below 5 years (71 vs. 168). The male to female ratio was 1.6:1 with a preponderance of male children below 10 years and the females between 11-15 years of age. The commonest cause of burns was scald (64.4%) in the household, which is usually accidental, but 3 were suicide attempts by teenage pregnant females 11-15 years protesting forced marriages, a cultural problem in our environment. Flame burns ranked second (27.4%) and results mainly from careless storage, adulteration and hawking of petroleum products. More than 50% of the patients sustained major burns resulting in high morbidity and mortality rate of 16%.
Conclusion: Burn is a major public health problem and will require public/school health education campaign on childhood household safety. Appropriate legislation and enforcement on the sale of petroleum products would help to reduce the scourge.