Influence of demographics and inhalation injury on burn mortality in children

Robert E. Barrow, Marcus Spies, Laura N. Barrow, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Background: Pulmonary failure has emerged as one of the leading causes of mortality in burned children due, in part, to the success in reducing the incidence of sepsis, early surgery and fluid resuscitation, and new advances in nutritional support. To evaluate the effect of pulmonary injury, age, gender, race, and burn size on mortality, the records of 3179 burned children admitted to our burn center from 1985 to 2001 were reviewed. In this population, 1246 were admitted within 14 days of injury with burns greater than 20% of their total body surface area (TBSA). Methods: Lethal burn areas (LAs) for a thermal injury only or burn plus inhalation injury were estimated from best fit probit curve within 95% confidence limits. Data analysis was by χ2-test, t-test, or Fisher's exact test where appropriate. Results: The lethal burn area for a 10% mortality rate with and without concomitant inhalation injury was a 50 and 73% TBSA burn, respectively. Children up to the age of 3 with ≥20% TBSA burns had a higher rate of mortality (9.9%) compared to those 3-12 years of age (4.9%) and 13-18 years of age (4.2%). Children with 21-80% TBSA burns showed a significant difference in mortality (P<0.05) between those with burn plus inhalation injury (13.9%) and burn only (2.9%), while those with 81-100% TBSA burns showed no significant difference between burn only and burn plus inhalation injury. Conclusion: Inhalation injury remains one of the primary contributors to burn mortality. Children under the age of 3 years, however, are at a higher risk both with and without inhalation injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Age and gender
  • Burn size
  • Mortality rates
  • Probit analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Surgery


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