A 1-year prospective study of burns in an Irish paediatric burns unit

Burns. 1996 May;22(3):221-4. doi: 10.1016/0305-4179(95)00109-3.


Burns are the fourth leading cause of injury death in children in the USA, accounting for 1300 paediatric deaths annually. The majority of paediatric burns mortality and morbidity result from simple domestic accidents that are preventable. A prospective study of paediatric burns from 1 January 1992 to 1 January 1993 was undertaken at our burns unit to outline the profile of the Irish paediatric burns problem. A total of 336 burns were referred to our unit over the 12 months (80 per cent self-referrals, 15 per cent tertiary referrals from district hospitals and 5 per cent GP referrals). Sixteen per cent (57) of the patients required admission and 33 per cent (112) required prolonged dressings as outpatients. Mortality and morbidity rates were comparable to other centres at 1.8 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. The demographic analysis of the patient population was similar to that seen in other studies from developed countries but there were some notable differences. First, there was an alarmingly high incidence of serious sunburn injuries, especially among young infants. Most parents were unaware of the association between childhood sunburn and the development of skin cancer in later life. Second, 90 per cent of the accidents occurred in the home and almost all were preventable. A parent or guardian was present in 87 per cent of cases but parental knowledge of the appropriate first aid measures was poor. It is suggested that a public health education campaign on this issue would help in reducing the incidence and severity of paediatric burn injuries in Ireland.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / mortality
  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Bandages / statistics & numerical data
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / mortality
  • Burns / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • First Aid / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Education
  • Hospitals, District / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Sunburn / epidemiology