Trauma Report: Kids With Gun Injuries More Likely To Die

"Non-Violence sculpture by  Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd (Wikimedia Commons)
"Non-Violence sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd (Wikimedia Commons)

The report, which began as a study on children's playground injuries, looked at data gathered from Colorado trauma centers in which 6,920 youths were treated between 2000 and 2008, according to CNN:

Of those, 129 had injuries from firearms, and those injuries were extremely serious compared with the others.
Of the gun injuries, 50.4% required intensive care, compared with 19.3% for other trauma-related injuries. Some 13.2% died, compared with the 1.7% injured in another way. A total of 14% of the gunshot wounds were coded as "self-inflicted."

Here's more background from the CNN report:

Dr. Angela Sauaia and her colleagues intended to study the impact modernized playground equipment had on lowering children's injury rates. They ended up studying kids' injury rates from guns instead.

The associate professor of public health, medicine and surgery at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora said she was neither motivated by the recent mass shooting in her area nor driven by politics.

"My colleagues and I were doing a study on playground injuries, because they were doing some remodeling projects here, and we wanted to see if that would change the playground injury rate," Sauaia said.

"When we started coding the trauma data, which includes all types of childhood injuries that turn up at these trauma centers, and we noticed the morbid pattern of gun violence-related injuries for children ... that shifted the focus of the study to document violence related to injuries involving gunshots."

The data, she said, showed a surprising number of children were being injured, many of them seriously, by guns.

"We had the impression that mass shootings caused so many injuries and those normally do get a lot of national attention, but in looking at the numbers, gun violence was happening to children on a routine basis, and it was mostly happening out of the spotlight," Sauaia said. "These are not isolated tragedies."

She and her colleagues knew they were on to something, putting together a research letter called "Firearm Injuries of Children and Adolescents in 2 Colorado Trauma Centers: 2000-2008," which was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The data covers some of the years between the two mass shootings in the Denver area — the 1999 one at Columbine High School that resulted in 13 deaths and more than 20 injuries before the shooters took their own lives, and July's mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

"In the years we studied, we didn't expect to see this many childhood injuries due to everyday gun violence," Sauaia said. "And far too many of these were self-inflicted."

This program aired on April 25, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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