How are smoke inhalation injuries treated in children?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

Although children are less likely than adults to experience significant smoke inhalation, it remains a serious and life-threatening problem in the pediatric population. Management of a child with burns and a coexistent inhalation injury requires a cohesive team of pediatric intensive care physicians, nurses, and burn specialists.

Children with burns have traditionally been cared for in adult burn units, but the increased availability of physicians, nurses, and ancillary staff trained in the care of severely ill pediatric patients makes the pediatric intensive care unit a superior environment. Understanding that children are not merely small adults is critical to preventing therapeutic errors and disastrous iatrogenic complications.

Exposure to metal fumes and fluorocarbons—systemic toxins typically released during industrial fires—is rare in the pediatric population. Children are less likely to be affected by systemic toxins than by toxins from household products and products of smoke, including CO and CN poisoning.


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