Almost one child or teen each hour is injured by a firearm seriously enough to require hospitalization, says an analysis reported by USA Today. Six percent of the 7,391 hospitalizations analyzed resulted in a death, says the study in February’s Pediatrics. The damage caused by gun-related injuries rarely gets the same attention as fatalities, “but that every day, 20 of our children are hospitalized for firearms injury, often suffering severe and costly injuries, clearly shows that this is a national public health problem,” says Robert Sege of the Division of Family and Child Advocacy at Boston Medical Center, a co-author of the study.
Despite declining rates over the past decade, firearm injuries remain the second leading cause of death, behind motor vehicle crashes, for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who survive firearm injuries often require extensive follow-up treatment, including rehabilitation, home health care, hospital readmission from delayed effects of the injury, and mental health or social services, Sege says. Researchers analyzed a nationally representative sample of discharge data collected on children and adolescents (up to age 20) in 2009. The data, released in 2011, are the most recent available.