Hot liquids cause 70 per cent of all thermal injuries to children. The most common single cause of scalds is hot drinks. Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk when they grasp cups and mugs of hot tea or coffee. Other common causes include steam or water from kettles and hot oil or fat. Children may also be scalded by hot tap water.
Children can suffer burns after contact with heaters, open fires, cookers, barbecues, irons, fireworks, matches, cigarette lighters, candles or any other hot surface. Young children are also particularly vulnerable to sunburn.
Deliberately inflicted burns and scalds are responsible for between 1 to 20% of all burns the higher figures from America the lower one from studies the UK.
- Many cases are not recognized and reported because of the difficulties of diagnosis
- In the absence of other injuries the diagnosis of abuse may not be suggested
- There are no simple formulae for recognizing abuse
- The doctor’s experience of abusive thermal injuries is important in accurate identification of abuse.