Frequency of childhood gunshot injuries ‘concerning’
medwireNews: Results from a survey carried out in Colorado, USA, show that a small but significant number of children in the region are killed or injured by firearms every year.
Angela Sauaia (University of Colorado, Denver, USA) and colleagues say that it is concerning that the number of children injured every year has remained largely constant since 2000, increasing from a mean of 2.2 to 2.8 per 100,000 persons aged 4-18 years in 2011.
They add that while the number of such injuries occurring annually in this age group has not increased dramatically since 2000, the injuries sustained have become more serious, with a mean injury severity score of 9 in the 2000-2002 period rising to 15 in 2006-2008.
As reported in JAMA, the researchers assessed all injuries in children and adolescents attending two trauma centers in Denver and Aurora in Colorado between 2000 and 2008. Of 6920 traumatic injuries occurring in this age group during this period, 129 (1.9%) were caused by firearms.
More firearm injuries occurred in boys than other traumatic injuries, at 79.8% versus 64.0%, and 68.0% of firearm injuries were seen in the 15-17 year age group. More firearm injuries were self-inflicted (either by accident or on purpose) than injuries from other causes, at 14.0% versus 0.9%.
"In 14% of these cases children managed to get access to unlocked, loaded guns," commented Sauaia in a press statement. "In an area with so much disagreement, I think we can all agree that children should not have unsupervised access to unlocked, loaded guns."
Children with firearm injuries were significantly more likely to need treatment in intensive care than children with other traumatic injuries, at 50.4% versus 19.3%.
Multivariable analysis showed that children who sustained firearm injuries between 2000 and 2008 had a significant 2.35-fold increased risk for needing treatment in intensive care and a 9.93-fold increased risk for death compared with children who sustained other traumatic injuries during the same period.
"People tend to only pay attention to gun safety issues after these mass killings but this is happening all the time to our children and it's totally preventable," said Sauaia in a press statement.
"Are we as a society willing to accept that 2 percent of our children shot each year is an acceptable number?"
medwireNews (www.medwirenews.com) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013
By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter