Toddlers from deprived homes at greater risk of scalds

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Toddlers living in socially deprived areas are most at risk of suffering hot water related injuries at home, according to a new study.


Researchers from the University of Nottingham used information routinely collected by GP patient records to study children born between January 1988 and November 2004 and their mothers. They examined data from a total of more than 180,000 mother-child pairs, which included 986 cases of scald injuries.

As part of their analysis, they looked at the sex of the child, their age at the time of the injury and the number of siblings. While for mothers, they assessed their age at childbirth, any history of depression during pregnancy or the first six months after their birth of their child, and whether they drank alcohol to a harmful or hazardous extent.

The researchers also considered whether children lived in deprived households based on their postcode and the number of adults living in the home.

They compared this data with a control group of children from a previous study exploring risk factors for childhood fractures, poisonings and thermal burns.

Their findings showed that children living in deprived households were 80 per cent more likely to have a scald compared to those in least deprived households.

Toddlers aged one to two-years-old were more than twice as likely to suffer a scald than children under a year. Boys were also 34 per cent more likely to have a scald injury.

Children with multiple siblings had a higher chance of suffering a scald - third-born children were twice as likely to be injured as first or second-born children. Children in single parents households were also more likely to have a scald than children in two-parent households.

In contrast, there was a decreased risk of scald to children with older mothers, with children born to mothers aged 30 to 40-years-old 30 per cent less likely to suffer a scald than a child born to a teenage mother. This increased to 70 per cent less likely for a mother over 40.

The authors of the study claim that the results could help GPs and health visitors identify children most at risk of a scald and prevent injuries.

Dr Elizabeth Orton from the University of Nottingham’s division of primary care and co-author of the study said, ‘It would be impossible for this study to show the whole picture as there is some information on potential risk factors which is unavailable through primary care records.

‘However, the results from our research offer significant insight into those groups who are at most risk, which would enable GPs to deliver targeted interventions to patients during clinical consultations and hopefully reduce the pain and misery of scalds for many children.’

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