Characteristics of accidental versus abusive pediatric burn injuries in an urban burn center over a 14-year period

Norell Rosado*, Elizabeth Charleston, Mary Gregg, Douglas Lorenz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to determine the demographic and associated characteristics of abusive burn injuries in children. Understanding the characteristics of burn injuries may help clinicians differentiate and recognize abusive injuries. We conducted a retrospective study of patients less than 5 years old admitted to an urban burn center from March 1999 to July 2013. Per protocol, all patients with burn injuries were evaluated by a multidisciplinary team (child abuse pediatrician, social worker, and nurse clinician). Demographic information, social risk factors, clinical presentation, caregiver at time of injury, radiographic studies and results, multidisciplinary team determination, and the Department of Children and Family Services investigation outcome were abstracted from the American Burn Association Burn Registry and patient's chart. Patient characteristics were evaluated with abuse status through Wilcoxon rank sum tests for continuous variables and chi-square tests or Fisher's exact test for categorical variables. A multiple logistic regression was fit to identify factors associated with abusive burns. One hundred and ten patients under 5 years were categorized as abuse (38) or accident (72). Demographic characteristics were similar between the abuse and accident groups. A determination of abuse was significantly associated with caregiver type (paramour), site of incident (outside of kitchen), time to seeking help (>4 hours), and the presence of nonburn skin injuries. A detailed history of the burn mechanism as well as psychosocial family risk factors are critical when evaluating pediatric patients with burn injuries, as it may assist the physician in distinguishing abusive from accidental burn injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberirz032
Pages (from-to)437-443
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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