When public health crises collide: 5 years of pediatric firearm injury prevention opportunities


Advocate Christ Medical Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital


Objectives: Prior publications on pediatric firearm-related injuries have emphasized significant social disparities. The pandemic has heightened a variety of these societal stresses. We sought to evaluate how we must now adapt our injury prevention strategies.

Patients and methods: Firearm-related injuries in children 15 years old and under at five urban level 1 trauma centers between January 2016 and December 2020 were retrospectively reviewed. Age, gender, race/ethnicity, Injury Severity Score, situation, timing of injury around school/curfew, and mortality were evaluated. Medical examiner data identified additional deaths.

Results: There were 615 injuries identified including 67 from the medical examiner. Overall, 80.2% were male with median age of 14 years (range 0-15; IQR 12-15). Black children comprised 77.2% of injured children while only representing 36% of local schools. Community violence (intentional interpersonal or bystander) injuries were 67.2% of the cohort; 7.8% were negligent discharges; and 2.6% suicide. Median age for intentional interpersonal injuries was 14 years (IQR 14-15) compared with 12 years (IQR 6-14, p

Conclusions: Pediatric firearm-related injuries have increased during the past 5 years. Prevention strategies have not been effective during this time interval. Prevention opportunities were identified specifically in the preteenage years to address interpersonal de-escalation training, safe handling/storage, and suicide mitigation. Efforts directed at those most vulnerable need to be reconsidered and examined for their utility and effectiveness.



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