Firearms Injuries Involving Young Children in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Firearms Injuries Involving Young Children in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Category: Firearm Availability, Homicide, Injury, Unintentional, Youth|Journal: Pediatrics (full text)|Author: G Badolato, J Cohen, K Donnelly, M Boyle, M Goyal, R McCarter, S Patel|Year: 2021

Objectives

Increased rates of firearm ownership, school closures, and a suspected decrease in supervision during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic place young children at increased risk of firearm injuries. We measured trends in firearm injuries in children and inflicted by children discharging a firearm during the pandemic and correlated these changes with a rise in firearm acquisition.

 

Methods

In this cross-sectional study with an interrupted time series analysis, we used multiyear data from the Gun Violence Archive. We compared trends in (1) firearm injuries in children younger than 12 years old and (2) firearm injuries inflicted by children younger than 12 years old during the pre-COVID-19 period (March to August in the years 2016–2019) and during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020 to August 2020). Linear regression models were developed to evaluate the relationship between firearm injuries and new firearm acquisitions.

 

Results

There was an increased risk of (1) firearm injuries in young children (relative risk = 1.90; 95% confidence interval 1.58 to 2.29) and (2) firearm injuries inflicted by young children (relative risk = 1.43; 95% confidence interval 1.14 to 1.80) during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic as compared to the pre-COVID-19 study period. These increased incidents correlate with an increase in new firearm ownership (P < .03).

 

Conclusions

There has been a surge in firearm injuries in young children and inflicted by young children during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent and critical need for enactment of interventions aimed at preventing firearm injuries and deaths involving children.

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