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Scalds, Burns to Young Children Largely Preventable

THURSDAY, Feb. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In young children, scalds are most often from hot beverages they have pulled down on themselves, and burns usually result from touching hot items in the home, according to research published online Feb. 3 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Alison M. Kemp, M.B., B.Ch., from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues describe the characteristics of childhood burns and scalds using data from a prospective multi-centered cross-sectional study involving 1,215 children (<16 years) with unintentional burns/scalds.

The researchers found that 709 children had scalds (58 percent); 306 had contact burns (32 percent); and 116 had burns from other causes. Most cases (72 percent) were children under 5 years of age, with peak prevalence among 1-year-olds. The most common scald agents in those <5 years were hot beverages (55 percent), and the most frequent mechanism of injury was pull down (48 percent). For 5- to 16-year-olds, the most common scald agent and mechanism was hot water (50 percent) and spill injuries (76 percent). The front of the body was affected in 96 percent of scalds. In younger children, contact burns were mainly from touching hot items in the home (81 percent), most often hair straighteners or irons (42 percent) or oven hobs (27 percent), while older children sustained more outdoor injuries (46 percent). The hands were affected in 67 percent of all contact burns.

"Scalds to infants and toddlers who pull hot beverages over themselves or sustain burns from touching irons, hair straighteners, or oven hobs are a high priority for targeted prevention," the authors write.

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