Hypertension in paediatric burns – the unit’s experience and current understanding from the literature

Dr Emma Dawes1, Dr Edward Gibson1, Dr Michelle Lodge1, Dr Amy Jeeves1, Mr Darren Molony1, Dr Rebecca Cooksey1, Ms Linda Quinn1, Mr Bernard Carney1

1Women’s And Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide, Australia


Hypertension is a common complication of paediatric burns. The aetiology remains undifferentiated and there is no known correlation with extent of injury, age, sex or race and the development of hypertension. Whilst acute manifestations of hypertension in paediatric burns patients are rare, recent studies have suggested that there may be a risk of developing chronic hypertension. This study seeks to examine the predictive factors for the development of hypertension and evaluate our current understanding of hypertension in paediatric burns.


A retrospective audit of 100 burns inpatients, managed by the unit between July 2005 and March 2016 was undertaken. All cases were allocated into 4 groups relating to TBSA% burnt prior to randomization.  25 patients were randomly selected from each TBSA category. Hypertension was defined as an elevation in systolic BP above 95% level for age. Demographic data and factors, such as TBSA and type of burn, were analysed.


The vast majority of our major paediatric burn cases, > 30% TBSA, experienced a period of hypertension during their admission. Episodic hypertension was variably noted in other groups. There were no cases of acute complications from hypertension in the study.


In contrast with past studies, our data found that hypertension was more likely to be seen in major paediatric burns than smaller burns. Whilst our study again noted no acute complications from hypertension, there remains a need for further research into the aetiology of hypertension in paediatric burns and which patients require treatment.

Emma is a resident medical officer at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. She is working towards a career in plastic surgery and has a strong interest in rural medicine and burns management


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