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Severity of Kids' Gun Injuries Getting Worse: Study
Date:4/24/2013

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teenagers who suffer gunshot wounds are much more likely to die than kids who have other types of serious injuries, a study at two Colorado hospitals shows.

Researchers found that of nearly 7,000 kids treated at two Denver-area trauma centers, those injured by a gun were 10 times more likely to die than those injured in other ways -- such as a car crash or a fall.

What's more, kids' firearm injuries got increasingly more severe over the course of the eight-year study, the investigators reported in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It's not clear why. One possibility is that the guns themselves are "getting worse," speculated lead researcher Dr. Angela Sauaia, an associate professor of public health, medicine and surgery at the University of Colorado, Denver.

But there's also the fact that emergency care for gunshot victims has improved in recent years, Sauaia said, so there may be more kids with severe wounds surviving long enough to make it to the hospital.

One expert offered a more fundamental perspective.

"The question that the [study] really begs is, 'Why are children as young as 4 being injured and killed by guns at all?'" said Dr. Eric Fleegler, of Boston Children's Hospital.

In recent research, Fleegler said he found that U.S. states with more gun control laws tended to have fewer gun deaths, particularly suicides.

"Out of 28 possible firearm laws, Colorado has just five, putting it near the middle of the United States," Fleegler noted. He added that, overall, Colorado's firearm death rate is slightly higher than the national average -- 10.3 per 100,000 people, vs. 9.9 per 100,000 for the entire United States.

The issue of gun violence and gun control was thrown into the spotlight once again last December, when 26 people -- including 20 child
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