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Every 72 Minutes, a Kid Is Hospitalized for Gun Injuries | The Nation

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Steven Hsieh

Steven Hsieh

Stories that matter. Tips: shsieh@thenation.com.

Every 72 Minutes, a Kid Is Hospitalized for Gun Injuries

Guns

An average of twenty children and adolescents were hospitalized daily for gun injuries in 2009, according to new research published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics.

The study breaks new ground, as national attention typically focuses on gun deaths. “Our study is the first to call attention to the thousands of children and adolescents who survive their immediate firearm-related injuries and go on to suffer substantial morbidity and hospitalizations,” the Yale researchers wrote.

The authors call for “public health efforts” to “reduce this common source of childhood injury,” but stress that federal restrictions imposed on gun injury research hampers these efforts.

“Firearm injuries contribute to health disparities, individually and in communities,” they write, “Among all US children and adolescents, males, blacks, and those receiving Medicaid were at the highest risk of firearm-related hospitalizations.”

The analysis, published yesterday, examined data from 4,121 hospitals in forty-four states, representing 96 percent of the US population. Here are some the findings:

  • An estimated 7,391 young people went to the hospital for gun injuries in 2009. Of those, about 453 died in hospitals.

  • Assault was the biggest cause of gun hospitalizations for adolescents aged 15–19. There were 4,559 incidents of gun injury by assault in that age range, about 62 percent of total gun hospitalizations.

  • Unintentional injury accounted for most gun hospitalizations among young children. Children under 10 made up about 75 percent of total unintentional gun injuries, with 285 incidents.

  • Nearly 50 percent of all adolescent gun hospitalizations were covered by Medicaid.

  • Males made up about 89 percent of all hospitalizations.

  • The rate of gun hospitalizations differed greatly by race. Black males account for the highest rate of gun hospitalizations, at 1 per 672 per year. 3,485 black male adolescents were hospitalized in 2009, compared with 1391 Hispanic and 1,207 white.

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“There have been no robust public health efforts to reduce firearm injuries, based, in part, on federal restrictions on firearms research,” the authors write. They cite a 2013 article detailing a successful effort by progun lawmakers to restrict federally funded firearms injury research. Published in the Journal of American Medical Research after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the article states, “Since Congress took this action in 1997, at least 427,000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide.”

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