Study spotlights Indigenous children and serious burns injuries

May 15, 2017 by Gabrielle Dunlevy, University of New South Wales
Study spotlights Indigenous children and serious burns injuries
Credit: Shutterstock

More Indigenous children are going to hospital in NSW with serious burns than non-Indigenous children and they are less likely to be treated in a hospital in a paediatric burns unit, despite needing more intensive treatment and a longer stay.

A study led by the UNSW Centre for Big Data Research in Health and supported by researchers at The George Institute for Global Health investigated the differences in injuries in children, examining the cause of the injury, its location on the body, the total body surface affected (% TBSA), burn depth and length of .

The proportion of Indigenous children with burns who presented with injuries affecting more than 10% TBSA was greater and the hospital stay was usually almost three days longer than non-Indigenous children.

A smaller proportion of Indigenous children with burns were treated in a hospital with a paediatric tertiary burns unit, fitting with previous studies that have shown Indigenous Australians experience inequities in access to medical services.

The first author on the paper published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, Holger Möller, says the higher proportion of Indigenous children presenting with burns affecting more than 10% TBSA is of particular concern.

"Burns can be among the most devastating of child injuries and can result in long-term physical and psychological impairment thus affecting the child's development and future life," he said.

"We could not assess the longer term outcomes of burn injury in this study and to date little is known about the long term outcomes, the post-discharge care, and the impact of care on functional outcomes in Aboriginal children."

Scalds were the leading cause of burn to both Indigenous (47%) and non-Indigenous children (62%). There was a higher proportion of flame burns in Indigenous children, which may be partially explained by the higher number of Indigenous children living in rural and remote areas where there are more outdoor fires.

The study involved population-based cohort analysis of linked hospital and mortality data for 2000–2014, with 35,749 Indigenous and 1,088,938 non-Indigenous children aged under 13 years as participants.

The study was done with researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia, Australian National University, The George Institute for Global Health, Flinders University and the University of Wollongong.

Study author, Professor Rebecca Ivers, director of the Injury Division at The George Institute, is currently exploring the care of Aboriginal children with burns through a cohort study in Queensland, NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The study is following children for at least two years post-burn in order to understand the impact and cost of burns. A roundtable is being planned for 2018 to develop a new model of care. The study utilises Indigenous research methodologies and three Aboriginal PhD students are working on the study.

"The study builds on previous understanding about burns in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children but rather than just measuring inequality, will result in a new transformative model of care that meets the needs of patients and caregivers," Professor Ivers said.

Explore further: Early childhood the key to improving Indigenous health

More information: Holger Möller et al. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian children hospitalised for burn injuries: a population data linkage study, The Medical Journal of Australia (2017). DOI: 10.5694/mja16.00213

Related Stories

Early childhood the key to improving Indigenous health

March 30, 2017
A major study into the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has found programs and policies to promote healthy weight should target children as young as three.

Few young U.S. burn patients transferred to specialized centers

September 5, 2016
(HealthDay)—Few American children with significant burns are transferred to burn centers, despite current recommendations, a new study finds.

Researchers call for children to wear helmets around horses

April 7, 2017
A new study has recommended helmets should always be worn by children not only when riding horses but also when around horses, to reduce the risk of head injuries.

Children with burn injuries covering 60 percent or more are at higher risk of complications and death

January 30, 2012
New research published Online First by The Lancet shows that children with burn injuries are much more likely to suffer severe complications or die when the burns cover 60% or more of their total body surface area (TBSA). ...

Parents can help soothe burns treatment stress

April 7, 2017
Playful distraction can trump kisses and cuddles to reduce a child's anxiety and pain during potentially painful burns dressing changes.

Large increase in eye injuries linked to laundry detergent pods among young children

February 2, 2017
Between 2012 and 2015, the number of chemical burns to the eye associated with laundry detergent pods increased more than 30-fold among preschool-aged children in the U.S., according to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology.

Recommended for you

Early childhood interventions show mixed results on child development

April 24, 2018
Early childhood interventions may have some efficacy in boosting measures of child health and development in low income countries, but more work is needed to sort out how to implement these interventions, according to a new ...

New study shows prenatal cannabis use associated with low birth weights

April 23, 2018
With marijuana use during pregnancy on the rise, a new study led by the Colorado School of Public Health shows that prenatal cannabis use was associated with a 50 percent increased likelihood of low birth weight, setting ...

New research suggests possible link between sudden infant death syndrome and air pollution

April 20, 2018
A study led by the University of Birmingham suggests a possible association between exposure to certain pollutants and an increased risk of so-called 'cot death'.

Common antidepressants in pregnancy may alter fetal brain development

April 10, 2018
(HealthDay)—Pregnant women who take certain antidepressants may unknowingly compromise the brain development of their child, researchers suggest.

Kids in tough neighborhoods head to ER more often

April 6, 2018
(HealthDay)—Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood may mean more visits to the emergency room, a new study suggests.

Infant death study reveals dangerous sleep practices among babysitters, relatives, others

April 2, 2018
Babies who died during their sleep while being watched by someone other than parents often had been placed in unsafe sleep positions, such as on their stomachs, or in unsafe locations, such as a couch, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.