oa South African Medical Journal - Mortality in paediatric burns victims : a retrospective review from 2009 to 2012 in a single centre : research

Volume 106, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Childhood mortality is high in low- and middle-income countries. Burns are one of the five leading causes of childhood injury mortality in South Africa (SA). While there is an abundance of literature on burns in the developed world, there are far fewer publications dealing with childhood mortality related to burns in Africa and SA.

To describe the mortality of children admitted to a dedicated paediatric burns unit, and investigate factors contributing to reducing mortality.
A retrospective review was performed of patients admitted to the Johnson & Johnson Paediatric Burns Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, SA, between May 2009 and April 2012.
During the study period, 1 372 patients aged ≤10 years were admitted to the unit. There were 1 089 admissions to the general ward and 283 admissions to the paediatric burns intensive care unit (PBICU). The overall mortality rate was 7.9% and the rate for children admitted to the PBICU 29.3%; 90.8% of deaths occurred in children aged ≤5 years. Of children admitted with an inhalational injury, 89.5% died. No child with a burn injury >60% of total body surface area (TBSA) survived.
Our overall mortality rate was 7.9%, and the rate declined significantly over the 3-year study period from 11.7% to 5.1%. Age ≤5 years, the presence of inhalational injury, burn injury >30% of TBSA and admission to the PBICU were significant risk factors for mortality.

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