Background: The objective was to investigate the relationship of high gun ownership and gun death rate on children and determine predictors influencing the incidence and outcome of pediatric firearm injuries in a major pediatric level 1 trauma center.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of our trauma registry to identify hospital admissions between April 1999 and March 2010. We extracted demographic and geographic data, seasonal variation, injury type, firearm type, and outcome.
Results: We identified 194 firearm injuries. The incidence did not change during the past decade. Most occurred during the second half of the year (61.4%). Mean age was 12.2 ± 4.6 years (range, 0.4-19.2 years). Unintentional shootings accounted for 100 injuries followed by assaults (n = 55) and innocent bystanders (n = 39). African American children were most often injured because of a violent cause (60.3%), whereas white children were shot unintentionally (80.1%). Powder-propelled firearms caused 82.5% of injuries. Overall, 17.5% of children required an operation, and 9.3% died.
Conclusions: The overwhelming majority of children were injured after a gun went off unintentionally, whereas most African American children were shot violently. We identified certain seasonal and geographic clusters. These data can be used to target gun injury prevention programs.
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