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Pattern of Burns in Child Abuse

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Cases of burns from child abuse are low because of under-reporting, low index of suspicion, or lack of verity proof. Although the reported incidence of child abuse by burns is 4 to 39 per cent, less than one-half are substantiated. We retrospectively reviewed all burns in children less than 6 years old admitted to our burn center within an 8-year period (1997–2003). Of the 155 children less than 6 years old admitted with burns within the study period, only six cases (3.8%) were confirmed as occurring from abuse. Scald injury was the most common cause of accidental and abuse burns. Burns by child abuse occur mostly from tap water (50%) and usually in children less than 2 years old. Whenever the extremities were involved, the left side was always included. In extreme cases, however, multiple areas of the body were involved with intervening spared sites. The perpetrator was the mother's boyfriend in all cases. Burns in children less than 2 years old left in the care of the mother's boyfriend, involving the left extremity (or extremities), and caused by tap water should prompt the clinician to more actively confirm or exclude abuse.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Surgery, Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, Connecticut and 2: Department of Surgery, Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, Connecticut 3: From the *Department of Surgery, Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, Connecticut and †Department of Surgery, Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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