Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether there is an association between a child's first name and the likelihood of inpatient admission following presentation to a paediatric emergency department (ED).Methods: This was a retrospective review of electronic records held in the ED of an urban tertiary paediatric hospital. Data were obtained for all presentations up to the age of 16 years for a single month (n= 4260), each being allocated to 1 of the 10 predetermined first name categories.Results: A statistically significant increased risk for hospital admission was found for the following first name categories: popular culture (relative risk (RR) = 1.91, P= 0.000, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.60–2.28), apparently unique (RR = 1.52, P= 0.000, 95% CI = 1.23–1.87), Old Testament (RR = 1.39, P= 0.001, 95% CI = 1.14–1.69) and surname as first name (RR = 1.36, P= 0.015, 95% CI = 1.07–1.72).Conclusions: Our data confirm the impression that children with certain categories of first names have an increased likelihood of admission to hospital after presenting to the ED. We speculate that our findings, which are in concordance with those from educational and psychological literature, may reflect socio-economic status and/or a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. Further research may make it possible to assign names an RR rating (e.g. for hospital admission in the first 16 years of life), thus providing parents with another factor to consider when choosing names for their children. More studies are of course needed.