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Reducing the incidence of burn injuries to Indigenous Australian children

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Burns are a specific health burden, but understanding the detail is vital to finding solutions

It is undisputed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) children are over-represented in statistics for injury and death caused by trauma. The incidence of each of the major mechanisms of fatal trauma in Australian children — drowning and low speed vehicle run-overs — is higher among Indigenous children.1,2 Burn injuries are also more prevalent among Indigenous children.3

In this issue of the MJA, Möller and his colleagues report a population data linkage study they undertook in New South Wales.4 Their results not only confirm that the incidence of hospitalisation of children for burn injuries is higher among Indigenous than non-Indigenous children. The authors also found that the proportion of burn injuries affecting more than 20% of total body surface area (TBSA) was greater for Indigenous than for non-Indigenous children, as was that of burns to the feet or ankles; that the incidence of being treated in a tertiary burns facility was lower and their median overall hospital stay longer for Indigenous children; and that they were less likely to undergo surgery, but more frequently received treatment from allied health professionals.…