UCSD Health SciencesUCSD Health Sciences
November 6, 2000 

Media Contact: Eileen Callahan (619) 543-6163


The UCSD Regional Burn Center released its annual statistical report today on people from San Diego and Imperial counties admitted to the Burn Center from January through December 1999. The 440 pediatric and adult patients reflected in the 1999 Burn Center census annual report, ranging in age six weeks to 93, were admitted to the Burn Center for burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The 1999 statistics show an increase of 68 burn patients from the previous year.

The majority of burns occurred in adults, with 239 admissions of individuals between ages 18-65, an increase of 24 patients from 1998. Forty patients over age 65 were admitted.

Infants to three-year-olds constituted 93 admissions, an increase of 23 patients from 1998. Children between 4 and 12 accounted for 37 admissions. The teen population ages 12 to18 had 12 admissions. For each group, injuries primarily involved home accidents, with most of those in the two youngest groups involving cooking and scalding accidents. Contact with hot objects such as curling irons and clothing irons, hot coals, "popper" fireworks, gasoline, gunpowder and barbecues are also common causes of burn accidents in young children. These accidents frequently result in third-degree burns, the most serious form of burn, often requiring skin grafting.

"This is an opportunity to remind people that most burn accidents occur in the home, most incidents involving young children involve hot liquids or cooking," said John Hansbrough, M.D., Director, UCSD Regional Burn Center. "To prevent these accidents, which happen quickly and are often quite serious, younger children in particular should not be in the kitchen during cooking, and hot liquids should be kept out of reach. We see more adolescent patients during the months corresponding with school vacations, which may be associated with decreased adult supervision and recreational activities that take place during leisure time."

More than half of children under four years of age, the largest pediatric patient group, were injured by cooking and scalding-related incidents, with 41% of scaldings involving "pull down" accidents, often involving coffee and tea spills. Contact with hot objects caused approximately 33% of injuries in this group. For children between 4 and 12, cooking and scalding still account for more than half of burn injuries, but fire and flame related injuries led to almost 25% of admissions.

The largest percentage of injuries in adults was from direct fire and flames, with cooking-related injuries being the next most common cause of burns. The majority of adults were burned in the home, but 20% of injuries in patients between 30 and 65 occurred in the work place, in addition to injuries incurred during recreational activities. Men accounted for 63 percent of the adult admissions.

The 40 patients over 65 were predominately injured at home and for the most part were injured while doing routine household activities.

Hispanic patients are disproportionately represented in younger age groups, accounting for 50% of admissions under age 18. Caucasians represent the largest group of adult admissions.

The UCSD Regional Burn Center was established in 1973 to provide specialized medical care and rehabilitation for severely burned patients. In the past 26 years, the Burn Center has treated thousands of patients. The Center, with its eighteen-bed inpatient facility, outpatient clinic and additional research and patient care resources, is the only comprehensive burn program in San Diego and Imperial counties.