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Burns More Common for Boys Than Girls

Most Burns Happen at Home, With Parents Nearby, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 17, 2006 -- Boys are nearly twice as likely to suffer burns as girls, and children aged 3 and younger are particularly vulnerable, a new study shows.

Most burns happen at home, with a parent nearby, states the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

The study included 148 children treated in Malmo, Sweden, for burns from 1998-2002. Among the findings:

  • 64% of the patients were boys -- nearly double the number of girls.
  • 72% were less than 3 years old.
  • More than 9 out of 10 burn incidents happened at home, with a parent nearby.

The burns mainly affected kids' hands, arms, feet, or legs, causing redness and blisters. None of the injuries were fatal.

The researchers included Anna Carlsson, MSc, RN, a doctoral student at Malmo University's nursing department.

Preventing Burns at Home

Many of the burns could have been prevented, Carlsson's team notes.

Most were scalds from hot liquid and hot food, the study shows.

In some cases, pan handles pointed over the front of the stove, where a small child could reach up and grab the handle, bringing the pan's hot contents down on themselves. Other burns happened when overheated liquids were handled when children were nearby.

Some burns happened when kids put a hand on a hot stove, a foot in hot candle wax, or a hand on a lamp. Another cause was being burned when they sat down on barbeque grills.

Hot bath water didn't cause any of the burns. Swedish law regulates the maximum heat of tap water, the researchers note.

The researchers point out that kids who are less than 3 years old often stay close to parents while cooking is underway. That closeness can raise kids' burn risk.

Parents should watch their young kids closely and start teaching them about burn risks when kids are about 2 years old, write Carlsson and colleagues.

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