URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/podcast/transcript110314.html

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript

Firearms, Kids, & Hospitalization: 11/03/2014

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff U.S. National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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An average of 20 U.S. children and teen agers are hospitalized daily (or about 7,400 kids a year) solely because of injuries from firearms, finds a recent, descriptive study published in Pediatrics.

Using the Kid’s Inpatient Database from a nationally representative sample of the International Classification of Diseases, the study’s three authors found the rate of hospitalization from firearm injuries was significantly higher for boys than girls under age 20.

In a striking example of health disparities, the study found the firearm injury hospitalization rate for African-American males (younger than 20) was more than 10 times the rate for white young men.

Of the 7,391 kids hospitalized for firearm injuries, the study found 61 percent underwent a major procedure in an operating room and about six percent died.

Among all the young people who died from firearm injuries, the study found about five percent were caused by an assault and 35 percent of deaths were suicide-related.

Returning to all hospitalizations from firearms, the authors write (and we quote): ‘the major cause of injury in young children was unintentional injury, whereas in adolescents, most hospitalizations resulted from assault’ (end of quote).

Overall, the authors (from Yale and the Boston University Schools of Medicine) found assaults represented about 62 percent of all hospitalizations for firearm injuries for kids before age 20. They added firearm injury-related hospitalizations from assaults jumped to about 68 percent among boys and girls ages 15-19.

The authors added the most common types of firearm injuries were open wounds, which occurred in about 52 percent of all cases. Wounds from internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen, or pelvis occurred in about 34 percent of all cases.

The study’s authors noted the research is the first to assess firearm injury hospitalization rates among kids before age 20. Previous research suggested about 3,500 young persons died annually from firearm-related injuries and about 21,000 kids visit emergency rooms each year after exposure to firearms.

In a news release accompanying the study, the study’s lead author said (and we quote): ‘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’ (end of quote).

Within the study the authors write (and we quote): ‘ Firearm injuries are an important and preventable cause of morbidity in the pediatric age range’ (end of quote).

In the press release the study’s lead author added (and we quote): ‘Pediatricians and other health care providers can play an important role in preventing these injuries through counseling about firearm safety, including safe storage’ (end of quote).

Meanwhile, helpful background information about gun safety (provided by the Nemours Foundation) is available in the ‘start here’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s gun safety health topic page. The Nemours Foundation also provides specific firearm household safety tips in the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s gun safety health topic page.

The American College of Emergency Physicians adds other insightful facts about firearm injuries within the ‘statistics’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s gun safety health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov’s gun safety health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about gun safety as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s gun safety health topic page type ‘gun safety’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘Gun safety (National Library of Medicine).’

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. I look forward to meeting you here next week.