Are paediatric burns more common in asylum seekers? An analysis of paediatric burn admissions

Burns. 2006 Mar;32(2):242-5. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2005.09.004. Epub 2006 Jan 31.


The number of asylum seekers in Ireland has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. Based on our impression that the number of children admitted to our burn unit was disproportionately represented by children of asylum seekers we performed an audit to establish (1) what proportion of admissions are from this subgroup and (2) the characteristics of their burns. All paediatric burn admissions from May 2003 to April 2004 were reviewed. Data collected from a retrospective chart review included patient demographics and details of the burn injuries. The National Census of 2002 and the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner were consulted for population statistics. Total burn admissions for the period were 126: Irish nationals (n=107), non-national residents (n=2), asylum seekers (n=14) and patients of unknown asylum status (n=3, excluded from study). In the asylum seeker group, the median age was 18.6 months (range 10 months-5.3 years) with the majority less than 2 years (n=11). All burns occurred in the domestic setting. Scalds accounted for 13 cases, one contact burn occurred from a hot grill. The median total body surface area burned was 5.7% (range 1.5-26%). The National Census of 2002 recorded a population of 3,917,203. With less than 12,000 asylum seekers in the country, they comprise only approximately 0.3% of the population yet they account for 11.4% of the burn patients admitted to our unit, p<0.0001. Children of asylum seekers are over-represented in our series of paediatric admissions for burns and are more likely than Irish children to sustain a burn at a younger age and in the domestic setting. This may indicate an increased risk of injury and warrants further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ireland
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors