Objective. To provide national estimates of fatal and nonfatal firearm-related (FA) injuries among children ≤14 years old and to examine the circumstances under which these injuries occurred.

Methods. For nonfatal FA injuries among children, we analyzed data on emergency department (ED) visits from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for 1993 through 2000. National estimates of injured children who were treated in hospital EDs were examined by selected characteristics, such as age, gender, race/ethnicity of the patient, primary body part affected, intent of the injury, the relationship of the shooter to the patient, where the injury occurred, and activity at the time of injury. For fatal FA injuries among children, we analyzed mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System for 1993 through 2000. Data from both sources were used to calculate case-fatality rates.

Results. From 1993 through 2000, an estimated 22 661 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 16 668–28 654) or 4.9 per 100 000 (95% CI: 3.6–6.2) children ≤ 14 years old with nonfatal FA injuries were treated in US hospital EDs. Assaults accounted for 41.5% of nonfatal FA injuries, and unintentional injuries accounted for 43.1%. Approximately 4 of 5 children who sustained a nonfatal, unintentional FA injury were reportedly shot by themselves or by a friend, a relative, or another person known to them. During this period, 5542, or 1.20 per 100 000 (95% CI: 1.17, 1.23), children ≤14 years old died from FA injuries; 1 of every 5 children who were wounded by a firearm gunshot died from that injury. Most FA deaths were violence related, with homicides and suicides constituting 54.7% and 21.9% of these deaths, respectively. For individuals ≤14 years old, the burden of morbidity and mortality associated with FA injuries falls disproportionately on boys, blacks, and children 10 to 14 years old. Both fatal and nonfatal injury rates declined >50% during the study period.

Conclusions. Although rates of nonfatal and fatal FA injuries declined during the period of study, FA injuries remain an important public health concern for children. Well-designed evaluation studies are needed to examine the effectiveness of potential interventions aimed at reducing FA injuries among children.

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