New data reveals that systemic responses triggered by burn injuries, such as respiratory infection, may persist in some children for at least a decade after the wound has healed.

The study, conducted in Western Australia, also demonstrated increased respiratory infection admissions after burns. The researchers added that pediatric burn patients should receive prolonged clinical and routine assessments in primary care following discharge.

“Despite a decline in the incidence of burn admissions in developed countries over the past few decades, children remain a vulnerable high-risk group,” Janine M. Duke, PhD, of the University of Western Australia School of Surgery’s Burn Injury Unit, and colleagues wrote. “The burden of burn injury is significant in terms of acute care and chronic health effects. Burns initiate a range of acute systemic responses to restore tissue integrity and homeostasis, including activating the immune system, the blood coagulation cascade and inflammatory pathways.”

To determine hospital service use for respiratory morbidity in children with cutaneous burns but no smoke inhalation over the course of a decade, the researchers conducted a population-based longitudinal study. They used data from linked hospital and death in Western Australia for children younger than 5 years hospitalized for a first burn injury between 1980 and 2012 (n = 5,290). They also examined a frequency matched noninjury comparison cohort randomly selected from Western Australia birth registrations (n = 27,061).

To generate adjusted incidence and hazard ratios, the researchers used multivariate negative binomial and Cox proportional hazards regression models.

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