Biobank Study

Childrens’ Burn Injury Biobank

A childhood burn injury can be a very traumatic experience, both for the child and the parents. The majority of children are injured between 1 and 3 years old, as their rapidly increasing curiosity and mobility combines to put them at a higher risk of accidental injury. Treatment and research for burns has focused on repairing the skin and improving the scars. This has been very successful and many children now heal with little scarring thanks in part to developments such as ReCell™.

Our new focus is on understanding all of the impacts of a burn on a child and their family, not just the visible ones. Our work has already shown changes to immunity that might make some children more susceptible to infections. We know that there can be psychological as well as physical after-effects which can impact on school life and social integration, which is particularly important for children.

To try to answer some of the complex questions around how burns impact on the whole body and the psychosocial impacts of the injury we have established the paediatric biobank in 2020. For this biobank we recruit consenting patients/carers to collect biological samples (for example blood and hair) around the time of injury and at their follow-up appointments. We will also collect questionnaire and clinical data for these patients. We are hoping to recruit up to 500 children to this study over the coming years.

As the biobank builds we will be able to investigate the impact of burns in ways that have never been done before. New technologies together with this unique collection of samples following these children over time with clinical data alongside will help us to truly understand the impacts of burns on individual children and how we can best treat these children and their families to enable them to fulfil their potential.

Looking at stress after childhood burn – in the lab. Cortisol in the parent and child.

Cortisol is a chemical that is released in the body when we get stressed. Hair samples collected at the time of burn gives information about pre-burn levels of stress via the analysis of cortisol levels in the hair. Hair grows at about 1cm a month, therefore, a 3cm length of hair gives 3 months of stress. We follow up with a hair sample at 3 months post burn injury to find the level of stress experience since the burn. This way a pre and post burn measure of stress can be compared in both parent and child. This will be tested as part of Amira's PhD project, alongside her analysis of the PedsQL surveys taken in the Impact Study.

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