Burn injuries constitute a major public health problem and are the leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is paucity of published data on childhood burn injuries in Tanzania, particularly the study area. This study was conducted to describe the pattern of childhood burn injuries in our local setting and to evaluate their management outcome.
A cross sectional study was conducted at Bugando Medical Centre (in Northwestern Tanzania) over a 3-year period from January 2008 to December 2010. Data was collected using a pre-tested coded questionnaire and statistical analyses performed using SPSS software version 15.0.
A total of 342 burned children were studied. Males were mainly affected. Children aged = 2 were the majority accounting for 45.9% of cases. Intentional burn injuries due to child abuse were reported in 2.9% of cases. Scald was the most common type of burns (56.1%). The trunk was the most commonly involved body region (57.3%). Majority of patients (48.0%) sustained superficial burns. Eight (2.3%) patients were HIV positive. Most patients (89.8%) presented to the hospital later than 24 h. The rate of burn wound infection on admission and on 10th day were 32.4% and 39.8% respectively.Staphylococcus aureus were more common on admission wound swabs, with Pseudomonas aeruginosa becoming more evident after 10th day. MRSA was detected in 19.2% of Staphylococcus aureus. Conservative treatment was performed in 87.1% of cases. Surgical treatment mainly skin grafting (65.9%) was performed in 44 (12.9%) of patients. The overall average of the length of hospital stay (LOS) was 22.12 ± 16.62 days. Mortality rate was 11.7%. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis; age of the patient, type of burn, delayed presentation, clothing ignition, %TBSA and severity of burn were found to be significantly associated with LOS (P < 0.001), whereas mortality rate was found to be independently and significantly related to the age of the patient, type of burn, HIV positive with stigmata of AIDS, CD4 count, inhalation injury, %TBSA and severity of burn (P < 0.001).
Childhood burn injuries still remain a menace in our environment with virtually unacceptable high morbidity and mortality. There is need for critical appraisal of the preventive measures and management principles currently being practiced.