A new study released in the journal Pediatricsshows that firearm injury emergency department visits for children increased beyond expected pre-pandemic trends.
The data compared trends from January 2017-February 2020 versus March 2020-November 2022.
The study looked at emergency room visits from nine hospitals in the U.S. The data showed that firearm injury visits per 30 days increased from 18.0 before the pandemic to 36.1 during the pandemic.
The data also indicated that firearm injuries accounted for 3% of youth emergency room visits before the pandemic, increasing to 6.1% of all visits during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic we saw a drastic increase in firearm purchases, which might have led to the tragic spikes in injuries and deaths from firearms among children and adolescents,” said Dr. Jennifer Hoffmann, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The data showed a more significant jump in emergency room visits for firearm injuries among Black and Latino children than among White youth.
“Increases in firearm injuries across socioeconomic groups indicate that no child in the U.S. is immune to the growing risks of firearm violence,” said Hoffmann. “Evidence-based policy solutions are desperately needed to tackle this crisis. For example, child access prevention laws, which hold firearm owners liable if a child can or does access a firearm, are associated with decreased firearm deaths in young people.”
The new data comes a month after the American Academy of Pediatrics released findings that show youth gun deaths increased 87.1% from 2011-2021. The authors of last month's study noted that it was unclear what role the pandemic had on these figures.
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatricsreleased a policy statement urging action on gun violence and research. The policy called for universal background checks, increased red flag laws and banning semi-automatic military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
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