STUDY OBJECTIVE--To study risk factors for childhood burns in order to identify possible preventive strategies. DESIGN--Case-control design with pair matching of controls to cases in relation to age, sex, and area of residence. The cases and controls were identified by a community based, multisite survey. The effects of host and socioenvironmental variables reported by mothers were investigated in a multivariate analysis using conditional logistic regression. SETTING--A developing country setting the Ashanti Region in Ghana. PARTICIPANTS--These comprised 610 cases aged 0-5 years who had been burned (as evidenced by a visible scar) and 610 controls with no burn history. MAIN RESULTS--The presence of a pre-existing impairment in a child was the strongest risk factor in this population (OR = 6.71; 95% CI 2.78, 16.16). Other significant risk factor included: sibling death from a burn (OR = 4.41; 95% CI 1.16, 16.68); history of burn in a sibling (OR = 1.79; 95% CI 1.24, 2.58); and storage of a flammable substance in the home (OR = 1.51; 95% CI 1.03; 2.21). Maternal education had a protective effect against childhood burns, although this effect was not strong (OR = 0.76; 95% CI 0.55, 1.05). CONCLUSIONS--Community programmes to ensure adequate child supervision and general child wellbeing, particularly for those with impairments, as well as parental education about burns are recommended, to reduce childhood burns in this region of Ghana. The public should bed advised against storing flammable substances in the home.
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