In Hot Soup – An Asian perspective of paediatric burn epidemiology presenting in Singapore

Dr Divya Shu Yan Ang1, Dr WLJ Mok1, Dr Jade Kua1, Mr JC  Allen2, Dr JSG Lim1

1KK Women’s And Children’s Hospital, Singhealth, Singapore, Singapore, 2Duke NUS Medical School, Singapore,  Singapore

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital is the national referral centre for Pediatrics and managed 1785 pediatric burn patients from 2009-2013. The objective of this study is to evaluate our improvement in pediatric burn care and assess deficiencies in burn care and prevention.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of all burn patients presenting to our Children’s Emergency from 2009-2013 was performed. Patients younger than 18 years old with first presentation of an acute burn were included. Patient demographics, circumstances of burn injury and first aid management was collected.

Results: Majority of burn patients (47.5%) was under 2 years of age. Annual pediatric burn incidence increased by 3.5% year on year. 77.4% of patients had a total body surface area burn of <5%. The commonest mechanism of burns was scalding (79.4%), followed by hot contact (11.5%). Burns mostly occurred at home in the kitchen with children pulling onto adults handling hot liquids.

Conclusion: 98% received inappropriate first aid with 77% receiving no first aid, and 7% of patients had traditional remedies such as soy sauce applied to their wounds. The burn admission rate was 9.8%. The mortality rate was 0.06%. <3% of patients underwent surgery.

Scalds were most common between 0-2 years and are likely attributed to inherent curiosity. Distinctively, Asian food being predominantly soup based, relates to increased risks of burns. With the astonishing lack of appropriate first aid knowledge, coupled with a rising yearly incidence, a nation-wide education campaign will be effective in propagating first aid and risk reduction

Currently a first-year medical officer with the plastic surgery department in KK women’s and children’s hospital, Dr. Ang has a keen interest in Paediatric burns since she was a medical student. With the guidance of her mentors Dr. Gale Lim and Dr. James Mok, the team decided to get to the bottom of the increasing burn statistics in the pediatric population in Singapore and found that, in more ways than one, it was in hot soup.



ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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