A study of the medical records of 1,215 children under the age of 16 in the UK who were treated in A&E and specialist burns units has revealed that one-year-old children receive 10 times the amount of burns and scalds as older children.
The study carried out by researchers at Cardiff University and published in Archives of Diseases on Childhood showed that 58% of the children had been scalded, 32% had contact burns with the remaining burns coming from other causes.
Dangers in the home
Shockingly, all of the scald injuries occurred in the home with 88% the result of a child reaching up and pulling down a hot drink – usually tea.
Half of the 155 scalds among youngsters aged 5 to 16 were caused by hot water – mostly from spills while preparing food, said Professor Alison Mary Kemp, of the Institute of Primary Care and Public Health at Cardiff University.
Nearly all the scalds occurred on the front of the body, mostly on the face, arms, and upper torso in younger children and the lower torso, legs and hands in older children.
Two thirds of all contact burns were to the hands. In the under-five age group, 81% of these burns were caused by touching hot items such as hair straighteners, hot stove tops and irons.
Overall, three quarters of the children who suffered burns were under five years old, the majority of injuries occurring in one year olds who were ten times more likely to be injured than older children.
After the age of three, children are much less likely to suffer burns or scalds, perhaps because they are more aware of the danger of heat.