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Firearms are now the most likely cause of death in children in America

Firearms are now the most likely cause of death in children in America

The discovery was made in a new study cited in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The most likely cause of death amongst children in America is firearm-related, a new study has said.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have looked at the leading causes of death for individuals in the US aged 1 to 19.

Via the study - titled 'Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States' - it was concluded that firearm-related deaths among children and adolescents increased by 29.5 percent from 2019 to 2020, which is believed to be the latest available data.

American children and teenagers are more likely to die due to firearms.

The previous analysis, which examined data through 2016, showed that firearm-related injuries were second only to motor vehicle crashes.

Drug overdose and poisoning also increased by 83.6 percent from 2019 to 2020, becoming the third leading cause of death in that age group.

Jason Goldstick, research associate professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine and of health behaviour and health education at the U-M School of Public Health, said: "The increasing rates of firearm mortality are a longer-term trend and demonstrate that we continue to fail to protect our youngest population from a preventable cause of death.

"Recent investments in firearm injury prevention research by the CDC and National Institutes of Health, in addition to community violence prevention funding in the federal budget, are a step in the right direction.

"But this momentum must continue if we truly want to break this alarming trend."

Firearm related injuries had increased by 29.5 percent from 2019 to 2020.

"Motor vehicle crashes were consistently the leading cause of death for children and adolescents by a fairly wide margin," said Patrick Carter, co-director of the institute and associate professor of emergency medicine and of health behaviour and health education.

"But by making vehicles and their drivers safer, these types of fatalities have drastically decreased over the past 20 years.

"Injury prevention science played a crucial role in reducing automobile deaths without taking cars off the road, and we have a real opportunity here to generate a similar impact for reducing firearm deaths through the application of rigorous injury prevention science."

A chart showing causes of deaths of children and adolescents.
The New England Journal of Medicine

"Firearm violence is one of the most critical challenges facing our society, and based on the latest federal data, this crisis is growing more and more intense," said Rebecca Cunningham, U-M vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

"As a nation, we turn to scientific evidence to prevent injuries and deaths, and firearms should be no different. Michigan has incredible expertise in this space, and we will continue to use our collective knowledge to create safer and more vibrant communities nationwide."

"Although the new data are consistent with other evidence that firearm violence has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic," the study also noted.

"The reasons for the increase are unclear, and it cannot be assumed that firearm-related mortality will later revert to pre-pandemic levels. 

"Regardless, the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death."

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Topics: US News, Crime