35% of children with firearm injuries receive a new mental health diagnosis in the year following the injury.
Data recently published in Anals of Surgery found that children who survived firearm injuries were more likely to receive new mental health diagnoses, even compared to children injured in car crashes. .
“In 2020, firearm injuries were the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States, second only to motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). , we know very little about the long-term effects of firearm injuries, especially mental health,” CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan told Theravive.
“Exposure to trauma, such as firearm injuries, is a well-established risk factor for mental health (MH) status in children. “These are my patients and I need to help them live long and productive lives.” He said.
For this study, Ehrlich and colleagues looked at data from about 1,500 children who had experienced firearm injuries between the ages of 3 and 17. They also looked at data from about 3,700 children injured in crashes.
80% of both populations studied were boys, with a mean age of 15 years. Of the children injured by firearms, 65% were black.
The data suggest that the majority of new mental health diagnoses given to children were related to alcohol or drug abuse. Stress conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder were also common.
Children who survived firearm injuries were twice as likely to be diagnosed with substance abuse or stress-related conditions compared to those who survived car crashes.
“Children with firearm injuries are at increased risk of developing serious mental health problems that can have long-term consequences. Gun injuries are only going to increase over the next decade, and this It’s a top priority for trauma centers,” said Ehrlich.
The researchers also investigated whether the new diagnosis was the child’s first mental health diagnosis or whether it was an addition to an already diagnosed mental health condition.
18.4% of children with firearm injuries who had no previous mental health diagnosis received a new diagnosis in the year following the injury.
Of the children who had already received a mental health examination prior to their injury, 16.4% of children in the firearms group received an additional mental health examination, compared to 12.5% of children in the crash.
The authors say people who survive firearm injuries have higher severity of injuries, are more likely to need intensive care and are more likely to be hospitalized compared to crash survivors. .
They argue that this affects the complexity of follow-up care and the cost of care.
Those who were hospitalized were more likely to receive a new mental health diagnosis.
Ehrlich said he hopes the study will highlight the many disabilities that young survivors of firearm injuries can have and help them receive appropriate care and diagnosis.
“We need to develop, test and implement early screening for mental health problems following gunshot wounds in children. We need to ensure access to care for these children. Yes, we need to support families, we need to develop teaching materials,” he said.
Elizabeth Pratt is a medical journalist and producer. Her work has been published in Healthline, The Huffington Post, Fox News, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, Escape, The Cusp and Skyscanner. You can read more of her articles here. Or find out more about her Elizabeth and contact her via LinkedIn and her Twitter profile.