MONDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A new study confirms the
high danger posed by gunshot wounds in kids: Hospital statistics
from several U.S. urban areas reveal that at least 8 percent of
children who were shot died.
Gunshot wounds in kids caused a higher level of serious injury
and death than any other cause, even car accidents.
Although the findings aren't surprising, they do reveal the true
cost of gunshot injuries in kids, said study author Dr. Craig
Newgard, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Oregon
Health & Science University, in Portland.
"Looking broadly at injury-related issues in children, we can say that gunshot-related wounds are not common," he said. "But at the same time, there are major adverse outcomes related to them."
In addition to the severity of the body damage they cause,
gunshot wounds are also the most likely of injuries in kids to
require blood transfusions and major surgery, Newgard said. The
cost of emergency care per patient for gunshot wounds -- an average
of more than $28,500, according to the study -- is also much higher
than any other kind of injury.
Why try to understand how gunshot injuries affect kids? Newgard
said the point of the study is to fill gaps in research regarding
violence, especially in light of recent tragedies. "We want to try
to provide policy makers more objective information about what's
really happening with children and firearms," he said.
The researchers examined details about emergency-room visits by
nearly 50,000 injured children to 93 hospitals from 2006 to 2008.
The hospitals were in Oregon, California and Colorado.
Gunshot injuries were rare, accounting for 1 percent of all
injuries. Of the injuries, more than 80 percent were in teenagers
aged 15 to 19, and 85 percent were in males. (By comparison, 59
percent of other types of injuries were in males.)
The researchers found that 23 percent of gunshot injuries were
serious, 32 percent required major surgery and 8 percent of
patients died at the hospital.
By comparison, 1 percent of children who were hit by cars died
at the hospital, and 2 percent of those who were stabbed or
suffered similar injuries died.
The study didn't disclose the rates of injuries by geographic
area. "Our partners in each of the cities didn't want to have their
specific city labeled as the safest or most dangerous," Newgard
As for trends over time, the researchers didn't look at a long
enough period of time to determine whether there were changes in
the numbers of gunshot wounds, he said.
Dr. Michael Nance, director of the pediatric trauma program at
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is familiar with the findings
and pointed to another statistic in the study: 20 percent of all
deaths in the kids due to injury were caused by gunshot wounds. "I
would consider that consequential," he said. "These injuries are
He cautioned, however, that the numbers don't disclose the
impact of gunshot wounds nationwide because they only look at a few
regions. The numbers also are limited because they look only at
emergency-room visits connected to 911 calls, not children who are
shot and brought to the hospital in private vehicles.
As for the major message of the research, Nance said the study
"highlights the ongoing risk to children from firearms."
The study appears online Oct. 14 and in the November print issue
of the journal
For details about
teens and violence, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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