ASPO: Pediatric Caustic Injury Less Prevalent Than Thought

Researchers estimate 973 children in the United States had caustic ingestion injuries in 2006
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of pediatric caustic ingestion injuries is probably much lower than the currently cited figure of 5,000 to 15,000 per year, but the financial burden of these injuries is high, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology, held from April 30 to May 2 in Las Vegas.

Christopher M. Johnson, M.D., and Matthew T. Brigger, M.D., of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, conducted an analysis of a large hospital discharge database using ICD-9 codes to identify pediatric caustic ingestion injuries among children hospitalized in the United States. Regression modeling identified potential factors related to outcome of the injury, requiring a procedure, admission length of stay, and total hospital charges for the admission.

The researchers found that, in 2006, the prevalence of pediatric caustic ingestion injuries in the United States was 973 children. Using 2006 U.S. census data, they estimated that the incidence of pediatric caustic ingestion injury requiring hospitalization was 1.19 injuries per 100,000 children. They found that boys were more likely than girls to suffer caustic injury. Age, gender, hospital region, rural versus urban location, and median income as determined by ZIP code all had a significant association with incidence of caustic injury. Total hospital charges were found to be significantly related to hospital region.

"The prevalence of pediatric caustic ingestion injuries in the United States during 2006 appears to be much lower than the figured widely stated in the literature. This finding suggests that the burden of caustic ingestion injuries in children has decreased over time. However, children with such injuries incur hospital charges greater than $21 million and account for greater than 3500 inpatient days. Further investigation into regional variability, as well as a more robust cost analysis, may provide insight into reducing this burden," the authors write.

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