Globally in 2004, the incidence of burns severe enough to require medical attention was nearly 11 million people and ranked fourth in all injuries, higher than the combined incidence of tuberculosis and HIV infections. Fortunately, although burns and fires account for over 300,000 deaths each year throughout the world, the vast majority of burns are not fatal. Nonetheless, fire-related burns are also among the leading causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Morbidity and mortality due to fire and flames has declined worldwide in the past decades. However, 90% of burn deaths occur in LMIC, where prevention programs are uncommon and the quality of acute care is inconsistent. Even in high-income countries, burns occur disproportionately to racial and ethnic minorities such that socioeconomic status--more than cultural or educational factors--account for most of the increased burn susceptibility. Risk factors for burns include those related to socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, age, and gender, as well as those factors pertaining to region of residence, intent of injury, and comorbidity. Both the epidemiology and risk factors of burns injuries worldwide are reviewed in this paper.
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