Study Looks Into Child Gun Deaths -- An American Health Crisis

Study Looks Into Child Gun Deaths -- An American Health Crisis

Study Looks Into Child Gun Deaths -- An American Health Crisis

About 21 percent of those injuries are unintentional. The "Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States" is the largest study to look at the number of gun-related injuries and death in children and adolescents.

An accompanying editorial in the journal said it's "both reasonable and wise" for doctors to talk about firearms safety with parents, particularly those who keep guns at home.

Death from a firearm is the third leading cause of death for children in the US behind illness/congenital defect and motor vehicle injury.

The team looked through CDC data on deaths in the US for their study.

Among injury-related deaths, firearms are the second leading cause behind vehicle accidents for children aged 1-17.

Researchers found, for example, that each year between 2012 and 2014, the majority of gun related deaths were homicides (53 percent). These injuries were either from a firearm-related assault, an act of self-harm, or from unintentional injury.

Playing with guns and unintentional firing were the reason for most of the unintentional deaths with most of the victims being bystanders.

Another such injury involved a boy around 9 who was given a handgun for his birthday.

Geographically, the study showed that the most deaths by firearm among children occurred in Louisiana and Washington, DC.

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Delaware, Hawaii, Maine and New Hampshire had 20 or fewer child gun-related deaths, according to the study. The suicide rate increased 60 per cent over those years to 1.6 per 100,000.

All gun deaths and injuries are preventable, experts say.

Suicide rate was highest for white and American Indian children (each 2.2 per 100,000): nearly four times the amount for African American (0.6 per 100,000) and Hispanic (0.5 per 100,000) children and over 5 times the rate for Asian American children (0.4 per 100,000).

A related study, 'Pediatric Hospitalizations due to Firearm Injuries in the USA in 2012, ' found that the average length of hospitalization for injuries was six days, costing an average of $22,644 per stay, with an estimated national cost of the hospitalizations at $130 million.

When an adolescent commits suicide with a firearm they typically do so impulsively while dealing with life stresses or mental health issues, according to the study.

In fact, more than 90% of all children ages 14 and up who were killed by guns in high-income countries resided in the US. Parents also should be aware of kids' state of mind so they don't make a rash decision with a gun while they are upset, the CDC added. And firearms wounded another 5,700 each year during the same time period.

"Public health research is fundamental for understanding the problem and developing scientifically sound solutions", said the study's lead author, Katherine Fowler of the CDC.

Yet she added that some promising trends also appeared in the data.

Suicides increased from 2007 to 2014, from 325 to 532.

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