Firearms send 20 children to the hospital each day

Gunshot wounds hospitalize 20 children and adolescents each day, according to a new study in Pediatrics, which calls for public health efforts to reduce these common injuries.

The analysis is one of the most comprehensive efforts to count the number of children hurt nationally in gun-related incidents, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Researchers, led by John Leventhal, M.D., of the Yale School of Medicine, used the 2009 Kids' Inpatient Database to identify 7,391 hospitalizations of children and adolescents younger than the age of 20 due to firearm-related injuries. They found:

  • More than 6 percent (493 cases) of those patients died while in the hospital;

  • Most of these hospitalizations (4,559) were due to assaults;

  • Seventy-five percent of the nearly 400 hospitalizations in children younger than age 10 were due to unintentional or accidental injuries;

  • Open wounds (52 percent), fractures (50 percent) and internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent) were the most common types of injuries; and

  • Approximately 90 percent of the cases involved males and the hospitalization rate for African-American males was 10 times higher than white males.

"These data highlight the toll of gun-related injuries that extends beyond high-profile cases, and those children and adolescents who die before being hospitalized," said Leventhal in a study announcement. "Pediatricians and other healthcare providers can play an important role in preventing these injuries through counseling about firearm safety, including safe storage."

Hospital care for these injuries in 2009 totaled $147 million, according to the report. However, researchers said these costs didn't include fees for physician services incident to the hospitalization, emergency medical services, rehabilitation or home healthcare, readmissions due to late effects of the injuries, mental health treatment or social services, or any indirect economic costs.

The study follows research released in November 2013 that revealed overall U.S. hospitals spent $16 billion from 2000-2008 to treat all firearm injuries, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the announcement
- check out the LA Times coverage