“Given recent firearm-related fatalities combined with declining gun research funding, it is important to monitor firearm injuries in youths. Injury death rates are available but provide an incomplete picture of these potentially preventable injuries,” writes Angela Sauaia, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Colorado School of Public Health, Denver and colleagues.
As reported in a Research Letter, the authors investigated the trends from 2000 to 2008 of both fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries in children and adolescents 4 to 17 years of age presenting to 2 Colorado urban trauma centers (in Denver and Aurora). The researchers compared firearm injuries with other injuries regarding patient characteristics (age, sex, race/ethnicity [white non-Latino vs. others], injury self-infliction, mortality, and intensive care requirement) and analyzed temporal trends regarding patient and injury characteristics as well as outcomes among fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries.
Overall, during this time period 6,920 youths were injured. Firearms caused the injury in 129 of these youths (1.9 percent) (2.1 percent in 2000-2002; 1.9 percent in 2003-2005; 1.6 percent in 2006-2008). Firearm-wounded patients were more likely to be adolescent males, and their injuries were more often self-inflicted compared with youths with other injuries. Sixty-five patients (50.4 percent) with firearm injuries required intensive care vs. 1,311 patients (19.3 percent) with other trauma; 17 patients (13.2 percent) with firearm injuries died vs. 116 (1.7 percent) with other trauma. Firearm injury severity significantly increased over time.
“Firearms were an important mechanism of injury in the youth in this study. Compared with other serious injuries, firearm injuries were more severe, more often required intensive care, and claimed more lives, justifying focusing on pediatric firearm injuries as a prevention priority,” the authors write. “More recent data from other areas with detail on the circumstances of the firearm injury are needed.”