Children and teens who survive a firearm injury have a high rate of developing new mental health diagnoses within a year, even compared to children who were injured in a car accident, according to a new study.
A total of 35% of children injured by firearms received a new mental health diagnosis within a year of the incident, compared to 26% of those injured in collisions.
Most of these new diagnoses were related to substance abuse issues with drugs or alcohol, or stress-related conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder – twice as likely to be diagnosed among young survivors gunshot wounds than among their peers who had been in crashed vehicles.
The new data was presented at the National Firearm Injury Prevention Research Conference and recently published in the annals of surgeryby a team led by Peter Ehrlich, MD, M.Sc., director of pediatric trauma care at University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatric surgery at Michigan Medicine.
Ehrlich and colleagues studied data from nearly 1,500 firearm-injured children, ages 3 to 17, and nearly 3,700 similar children injured in crashes, who sought emergency care between 2010 and 2016. The injured children all had insurance through Medicaid or the CHIP program, which together cover about 40% of all American children.
Boys made up over 80% of both populations of injured children, and the average age was 15 years. But 65% of children injured by firearms were black, while 52% of those injured in collisions were non-Hispanic white children.
The study, funded by the FACTS (Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens) consortium, helps shed light on the impact of firearm injuries on young people who survive them. In 2020, firearms overtook motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1 to 19.
But the lack of research funding for studies of gunshot wounds and their consequences has resulted in a lack of information for teams caring for the estimated 20,000 young people who survive gunshot wounds each year. fire.
We know that exposure to trauma, such as that suffered with a gunshot wound, is a well-established risk factor for mental health problems in children, but until recently we knew very little about it. on the mental health consequences of a firearm injury. We hope our study will shed light on the extent and types of disorders most likely to occur in young survivors of gunshot wounds, so that they can receive timely diagnosis and care.”
Peter Ehrlich, MD, M.Sc., director of pediatric trauma care at University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatric surgery at Michigan Medicine
They also looked at whether a new mental health diagnosis was a child’s first or added to another previous mental health condition.
A total of 18.4% of children injured by a firearm who had not previously had a mental health diagnosis received a new diagnosis the following year, compared to 13.5% of those injured in a accident. And among children whose pre-injury records indicated at least one mental health diagnosis, 16.4% received an additional unrelated diagnosis after a firearm injury, compared to 12.5% of those injured in a accident.
Ehrlich notes that gunshot wound survivors had higher scores on a composite measure of injury severity, were more likely to be hospitalized, and more likely to need intensive care, compared to survivors of road accidents. This has implications for the costs of care and the complexity of follow-up care. Overall, people admitted to hospital were more likely to be diagnosed with a new mental health condition.
Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan
Frankly PF et al. (2022) Mental Health Care Following Firearms and Motor Vehicle Injuries. annals of surgery. doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000005557.
#Children #gun #injuries #high #rate #developing #mental #health #diagnoses