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Hospitalization rate for firearm injuries in children and adolescents in urban versus rural areas

firearm injuries and childrenFirearm injuries are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for children and teenagers in the United States. A recent study by Bradley R. Herrin, Julie R. Gaither, John M. Leventhal and James Dodington compares hospitalization rates by age in urban settings (metropolitan counties of <50,000),  micropolitan settings (population 10,000-49,999) and rural settings (nonmetropolican nonmicropolitan counties of <10,000) . The searchers used the Kid’s Inpatient Database data from 2006, 2009 and 2012 to analyze 21,581 hospitalizations for firearm injuries. They excluded the children who died in the emergency room.

The study found that:

  • More than 77% of hospitalizations for pediatric firearm injuries were teenagers from 15 to 19 year old living in urban settings
  • Almost  9% were teenagers 10 to 14 year old also living in urban areas
  • Teenagers 10 to 15  year old and living in micropolitan settings represented a little more than 3% of the hospitalizations
  • Teenagers of the same age but living in rural areas represented a little less than 3% of all pediatric hospitalizations for firearm injuries

In urban areas, African American followed by Hispanic children  were the most at risk of being hospitalized, especially for injuries related to firearm assault. In micropolitan and especially in rural areas white kids had the highest risk of being hospitalized for firearm injuries.  Rural areas also recorded the highest rate of hospitalization for suicides or suicide attempts with firearms among the 15 to 19 year old teenagers.

The study also found that most children younger than 15 year old who were hospitalized for firearm injuries were treated for unintentional injuries with rural areas having the highest rate of hospitalization.

Read the complete study