(HealthDay News) – Hospitalizations of children ingesting caustic substances such as lye were fewer in 2009 than previous estimates, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.

Christopher M. Johnson, MD, and Matthew T. Brigger, MD, MPH, from the Naval Medical Center San Diego, analyzed pediatric hospital discharge data using the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database to determine the prevalence of pediatric caustic ingestion injuries requiring hospitalization in the United States.

The researchers found that the prevalence of injuries requiring hospitalization was 807 children in 2009, or 1.08 per 100,000 children. The annual total hospital charges were $22,900,000, at an estimated mean charge per patient of $28,860. Children were admitted for a mean of 4.13 days. Esophagoscopy was performed in 45.3% of cases, with children admitted to teaching hospitals significantly more likely to undergo a procedure. Children requiring hospitalization for caustic ingestion injuries were more commonly male, had a lower median annual income, and were seen at a teaching hospital.

“The current public health burden of pediatric caustic ingestion injuries may be less than commonly cited. This finding supports the notion that legislative efforts have been successful,” Johnson and Brigger conclude. “Despite these successes, these injuries continue to impose a significant burden on health care resources.”

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