Factors Related to Child Maltreatment in Children Presenting With Burn Injuries

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Abstract

The underpinnings of maltreatment in children presenting with burn injuries are necessary to discern as detection and prevention rest on a clear delineation of factors associated with maltreatment. Inaccurate identification of child victims can result in perpetuation of the maltreatment and its attendant neuropsychological sequela. The authors sought to determine factors associated with maltreatment in children presenting with burn injuries, which would guide the burn team in assessing the likelihood of maltreatment. All consenting children admitted with burn injuries were surveyed regarding their injury mechanism and current sociodemographic status. Suspicious injuries were referred by the burn team to the multidisciplinary review team (MRT). The MRT reported injuries with signs of physical abuse, supervision neglect, neglect of other basic needs, or sexual abuse. These children constituted the cases in our study. Variables related to maltreatment were entered into stepwise logistic regression to identify independent predicting variables. P< .05 was considered significant. MRT identified 16 children (24%) admitted with burn injuries with suspicions of maltreatment. Risk factors related to suspicions of maltreatment included: young age, large burns, tap water injury, immersion lines, delay in care, absence of a two-parent family (unconventional family structure), young parents, inconsistent history, and injury pattern. In this single-center prospective study, the authors identified several factors that, when present in injuries with initial suspicion of maltreatment, should trigger a child maltreatment workup. Burn clinicians have an important role as advocates for children and their families. It is important to continue to further the knowledge of maltreatment detection and prevention among children presenting with burn injuries.

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