Objective: To describe the incidence and circumstances of nonfatal firearm-related injuries among children and adolescents treated in US emergency departments.
Design: Data were obtained from the Firearm Injury Surveillance Study, 1993-1997; data were collected through medical record review at hospitals participating in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
Setting: The hospitals participating in National Electronic Injury Surveillance System are a stratified probability sample of all US hospitals.
Main outcome measures: Numbers and population rates for nonfatal firearm-related injuries among children and adolescents younger than 20 years old.
Results: An estimated 115,131 (95% confidence interval, 76,769-153,493) children and adolescents were treated for a nonfatal gunshot wound during the study period. The estimated annual rates of injury (per 100,000) were 2.0 (children 0-4 years old), 2.2 (children 5-9 years old), 15.4 (children 10-14 years old), and 106.5 (adolescents 15-19 years old). The ratios of nonfatal to fatal firearm-related injuries were 4.0 (children 0-4 years old), 4.4 (children 5-9 years old), 5.0 (children 10-14 years old), and 4.4 (adolescents 15-19 years old). An additional estimated 103,814 children (95% confidence interval, 69,223-138,405) were shot with a nonpowder firearm (BB or pellet gun). Boys 5 to 9 and 10 to 14 years old had the highest rates of injury related to nonpowder firearms, an estimated 36.2 and 99.8 per 100,000, respectively. Fifty-six percent of those 15 to 19 years old were assault victims. An estimated 48% of children and adolescents with powder firearm-related gunshot wounds and an estimated 4% with nonpowder firearm injuries were admitted to the hospital.
Conclusions: Nonfatal injuries related to powder firearms and nonpowder firearms (BB or pellet guns) are an important source of injury among US children and adolescents. Ongoing surveillance of nonfatal firearm-related injury among children and adolescents is needed.