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The domestic iron. A danger to young children
  1. Paul Gaffney
  1. St James's University Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Gaffney, Specialist Registrar in Accident and Emergency Medicine


Objectives—To study the epidemiology of thermal injury caused by the domestic iron in children 5 years old or less.

Methods—Retrospective review of case notes held in the accident and emergency (A&E) department of a large teaching hospital over a 36 month period. Data regarding demographics, site and extent of injury, mechanism of injury and outcome were retrieved.

Results—62 thermal injuries were identified in 59 patients. Of these, 60 were contact burns and two were scalds. The male to female ratio was 2:1. The mean age was 24 months. Fifty five per cent were aged between 1 and 2 years old. The hand was the commonest site of injury (63%) and, of these, two thirds were on the palm. Interestingly 10% occurred on the face. Iron contact burns accounted for 23.5% of all contact burns in this age group over this period. The majority of contact burns were partial thickness and most were less than 1% body surface area. Inadequate supervision is a recurring theme in many of these cases. A suspicion of non-accidental injury was raised in 10 cases and confirmed in nine of these.

Conclusions—Iron burns are common in young children, particularly boys aged between 1 and 2 years old. Most can be treated in the A&E clinic. The potential for serious injury does exist. Non-accidental injury always needs to be considered. Efforts at prevention and increasing public awareness are needed.

  • thermal injury
  • domestic iron
  • children
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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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