Pediatric Firearm Injury Mortality Epidemiology

Pediatrics. 2022 Mar 1;149(3):e2021052739. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-052739.


Firearm injury is a leading and preventable cause of death for youth in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web-based injury statistics query and reporting system was queried to examine changes in firearm injury mortality among youth aged 0 to 19 from 2001 to 2019. This includes assessment of overall mortality rates, mortality rates based on intent and race/ethnicity, and the proportion of deaths due to homicide, suicide, and unintentional shootings among different age groups. Regression analysis was used to identify significant differences in mortality rate over time between Black and White youth. Deaths due to firearm injury were compared with deaths due to motor vehicle traffic collisions. In 2019, firearm injuries surpassed motor vehicle collisions to become the leading cause of death for youth aged 0 to 19 years in the United States. Homicide is the most common intent across all age groups, but suicide represents a large proportion of firearm deaths in 10- to 19-year-old youth. In 2019, Black youth had a firearm mortality rate 4.3 times higher than that of White youth and a firearm homicide rate over 14 times higher than that of White youth. For each additional year after 2013, the mortality rate for Black youth increased by 0.55 deaths per 100 000 compared with White youth (time by race interaction effect P < .0001). These data indicate the growing burden of firearm injuries on child mortality and widening racial inequities with Black youth disproportionately affected by firearm violence. This public health crisis demands physician advocacy to reduce these preventable deaths among youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Firearms*
  • Homicide
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Population Surveillance
  • Suicide*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot*
  • Young Adult