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Pediatric Soup Scald Burn Injury: Etiology and Prevention

Palmieri, Tina L. MD, FACS; Alderson, Tyrone S. BSN; Ison, Dahlia RN; O’Mara, Michael S. MD, FACS; Sharma, Raj; Bubba, Anthony RN; Coombs, Elena; Greenhalgh, David G. MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e31816017d7
Original Articles: 2007 ABA Papers

One of the leading causes of scald burn injury in children is from hot soup, particularly prepackaged instant soups. The purpose of this study was to determine the demographic, socioeconomic, and situational factors that contribute to the incidence of scald burns in children. A 20-item questionnaire was given to the caregiver of children who were treated for scald burn injury at a pediatric burn center from July 2006 to March 2007. Questions included demographics (child age, gender, siblings, ethnicity), socioeconomic status (income, education), factors contributing to the injury (type of soup, child supervision, type of container), and location of injury. The mean age of the 78 children sustaining burn injury and completing the survey was 4.8 ± 0.6 years. The majority of patients were girls (51%), and the most frequently involved ethnic group was Hispanic (44%). Households had a mean of 3.0 ± 0.3 children in residence, and an income of less than $29,000/year (59%). The highest educational level achieved was high school for 73% of the parents. Prepackaged soup (65%) with a narrow base heated directly in the original container (46%) using the microwave (51%) was implicated in the majority of burns. Soup scald burns, especially from prepackaged instant soups, appear to predominate in lower income families with multiple children. The majority of injuries occur when the caregiver heats the soup in the original container using the microwave. Prevention of these types of injuries will require a two-pronged approach: educating families with multiple children and changing the soup packaging.

From the Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California and The University of California Davis, Sacramento, California.

Presented at the 39th Annual American Burn Association Meeting, April 2007, San Diego.

Address correspondence to: Tina L. Palmieri, MD, FACS, Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California and the University of California Davis, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Suite 718, Sacramento, California 95817.

© 2008 The American Burn Association