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Firearms Kill or Wound 7,000 U.S. Children Annually

53 percent of deaths are homicides, 38 percent are suicides, 6 percent are unintentional

man aiming gun

MONDAY, June 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Gun-related violence is the third leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 17, and firearm-related deaths lag only behind car crashes in terms of injury-related mortality, according to a report published online June 19 in Pediatrics.

Katherine Fowler, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues utilized data from the National Vital Statistics System, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, and National Violent Death Reporting System. The researchers found that 1,297 children die each year from firearm injuries, and 5,790 are treated for gunshot wounds, with boys and blacks affected most often. More than half of these deaths are homicides (53 percent), 38 percent are suicides, and 6 percent are unintentional.

The team found that the mortality rate from a firearm-related injury averaged 1.8 per 100,000 children, with boys accounting for 82 percent of gun deaths. The rate for black children was 4.2 per 100,000. Rates of gun homicide were higher in some southern states and parts of the Midwest than elsewhere. The highest rates of suicide by gun were among American-Indian/Alaska Natives and whites (2.2 per 100,000). Moreover, child suicides by gun have increased 60 percent since 2007.

"Pediatric firearm injuries and deaths are an important public health problem in the United States, contributing substantially each year to premature death, illness, and disability of children," Fowler told HealthDay. "Finding ways to prevent such injuries and ensure that all children have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments remains one of our most important priorities."

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