Children’s burn injuries rose during early part of pandemic: Pediatrician group | 2021-10-21

Itasca, IL — Childhood accidental burns increased 32.5% during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same period the previous year, according to new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed March-September 2019 and 2020 data from nine Level I pediatric trauma centers. They found that 522 children were being treated for burns during that time, compared with 394 before the pandemic.

The researchers say the marked increase is likely due to children being out of school “for extended periods of time” due to stay-at-home orders.

While all types of burns have increased during the pandemic, fireworks may have caused the increase in burns from exposure to open flames. The study summary states that the difference in accidental burns between 2019 and 2020 was greatest in July, coinciding with the widespread cancellation of professional fireworks displays for the 2020 Independence Day holiday.

“COVID-19 and stay at home inevitably created new dynamics between children and their social environments,” abstract co-author Christina Georgeades, a pediatric surgery researcher at Children’s Wisconsin, said in a press release. “Understanding specific contributing factors will be critical to minimizing the risk of future burns as we continue to navigate the pandemic environment.”

To reduce the risk of burns around the home, the AAP recommendations include:

Install at least one smoke detector on each floor of the house and test it monthly. Practice home fire drills. Place several working fire extinguishers in the house where the risk of fire is greatest, such as in the kitchen and boiler room, but also near the fireplace. Teach children to crawl to the exit if there is smoke in the room, and to stop, drop and roll on the floor if their clothes catch fire. Help prevent burns from tap water by setting your water heater so that the hottest temperature at the tap doesn’t exceed 120°F. Avoid overloading extension cords. Keep matches and lighters closed and out of the reach of children. Avoid all fireworks.

AAP provides guidelines for the treatment of burns:

Soak the burn in cold water as soon as possible. Do not treat burns with ice; to rub; or home remedies such as butter, fat, or powder. Immediately soak smoldering clothing with water, then remove clothing from the burned area. If clothing is snug against the skin, cut away as much material as possible. Cover the burn with sterile gauze or a clean, dry cloth if the injured area is not seeping. If a burn oozes, cover it lightly with sterile gauze and seek immediate medical attention.

The abstract was presented on October 10 as part of the virtual AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

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