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Recent Increase Seen for Pediatric Firearm-Related Injuries

Intentional interpersonal or bystander injuries accounted for 67.2 percent of the cohort and increased in 2020

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) — From 2016 to 2020, there was an increase in pediatric firearm-related injuries, with community violence and negligent discharges increasing in 2020, according to a study published online May 25 in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.

Leah C. Tatebe, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed firearm-related injuries in children aged 15 years and younger at five urban level 1 trauma centers between January 2016 and December 2020. Additional deaths were identified from medical examiner data.

The researchers identified 615 injuries including 67 from the medical examiner. Overall, 80.2 percent occurred in boys (median age, 14 years). Black children represented 36 percent of local schools but comprised 77.2 percent of injured children. Community violence injuries (intentional interpersonal or bystander), negligent discharges, and suicides accounted for 67.2, 7.8, and 2.6 percent of the cohort, respectively. The median age was 14 years for intentional interpersonal injuries and 12 years for negligent discharges. In the summer after the stay-at-home order, there were far more injuries. In 2020, community violence and negligent discharges increased significantly; annual suicides increased linearly. Of the injuries, 5.5 percent occurred during school, 56.7 percent after school or during nonschool days, and 34.3 percent after legal curfew. The mortality rate was 21.3 percent.

“Children are suffering firearm-related injuries at an increasing rate. We have lost ground during the pandemic,” the authors write. “We need to double-down on multifaceted prevention initiatives beginning in the preteenage years and include safe handling/storage, suicide mitigation, and interpersonal de-escalation training.”

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