Guns kill nearly 1,300 children a year in U.S., study finds

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 2:25 AM

Gun Safety Tips

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study that will be in the July issue of “Pediatrics” and its recommendations in response to the study. “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States” is the largest study to look at the number of gun-related injuries and death in children and adolescents. It looked at numbers from National Vital Statistics System, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Violent Death Reporting System.

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Here’s what it found:

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  • On average, 1,297 children a year die in the U.S. from gunshot wounds and 5,790 are treated for a gunshot wound.
  • Death from a firearm is the third-leading cause of death for children in the U.S. behind illness/congenital defect and motor vehicle injury.
  • 53 percent of gun deaths in children were homicides, 38 percent were suicides, 6 percent were unintentional deaths, and 3 percent were due to legal intervention or undetermined intent.
  • Homicide deaths by firearms in children have declined, but suicide deaths are on the rise.
  • 4.2 percent of children ages 0 to 17 in the United States have witnessed a shooting in the past year.
  • 82 percent of children killed by guns were boys.
  • Children 13-17 years old had a 12-times higher rate of being killed by a firearm than children 12 and younger.
  • Race mattered: The annual firearm homicide rate for African-American children (3.5 per 100,000) was nearly twice as high as the rate for American Indian children (2.2 per 100,000), 4 times higher than the rate for Hispanic children (0.8 per 100,000), and ∼10 times higher than the rate for white children and Asian-American children (each 0.4 per 100,000).
  • The suicide rate was highest for white and American Indian children (each 2.2 per 100,000), almost four times the amount for African-American (0.6 per 100,000) and Hispanic (0.5 per 100,000) children and over 5 times the rate for Asian-American children (0.4 per 100,000).
  • The rate of unintentional firearm deaths for African-American children was twice as high (0.2 per 100 000) as the rate for white children (0.1 per 100,000) and 4 times the rate for Hispanic children (0.05 per 100,000).
  • Southern states and parts of the Midwest had the highest rate of firearm homicides among children.
  • Firearm suicides are more evenly distributed among states, but higher in Western states.
  • In younger children, homicides often happen in a multivictim scenario and by family conflict.
  • Older children were more likely to die from crime and violence.
  • A shooter playing with the gun was the most common reason for an unintentional firearm death for all children.
  • Of children who committed suicide by firearm, 60 percent used a handgun, 42 percent had a crisis in the past, 71 percent had relationship problems, 34 percent were depressed, 26 percent had a clinically diagnosed mental health problem, 18 percent were receiving mental health treatment and 26 percent disclosed their intent to die by suicide to someone. Most spent 10 minutes or less thinking about it before they did it.

What are pediatricians to do with this information? And what are parents supposed to do?

  1. Ask parents if there are guns in their house.
  2. Do not get in a debate about their rights to have a gun.
  3. Talk about safe storage practices such as a gun safe and lock, storing guns unloaded and storing bullets separately.

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Frequent teen technology use linked to ADHD symptoms, study finds

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 8:20 AM

File photo of teens using smartphones.
ghcassel / Pixabay.com
File photo of teens using smartphones.(ghcassel / Pixabay.com)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, affecting millions of American children annually, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

>> On AJC.com: Does my child have ADHD? Things to know about the condition

While the causes and risk factors of the disorder are unknown, researchers are studying how brain injury, exposure to lead and other environmental factors during pregnancy, alcohol/tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery and low birth weight may be linked to ADHD.

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But new research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests frequent technology use among teens may also lead to common ADHD symptoms.

>> On AJC.com: Number of young women using ADHD medicine up by 700 percent, CDC says

The new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California features data on 2,587 15- and 16-year-olds in 10 Los Angeles County high schools.

Researchers assessed the students’ self-reported high-frequency use of 14 different digital media activities, such as social media, texting, video streaming or online chatrooms during a 24-month follow-up.

Approximately 9.5 percent of the children who reported frequent use of half of the platforms and 10.5 percent who reported using all 14 platforms frequently showed new signs and symptoms of ADHD.

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Compared to others, students who reported using multiple types of digital media multiple times a day were about twice as likely to report new ADHD symptoms over the 24-month follow-up.

Still, about 4.6 percent of the students who were not frequent users of any digital activity also showed symptoms.

“Among adolescents followed up over 2 years, there was a statistically significant but modest association between higher frequency of digital media use and subsequent symptoms of ADHD,” researchers concluded. 

But that doesn’t necessarily mean digital media use causes ADHD. “Further research is needed to determine whether this association is causal,” study authors wrote.

Read the full study at jamanetwork.com.

Video Games Could Be Involved In New ADHD Treatment

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5 things every parent should know about immunization

Published: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 11:51 AM

Researchers from Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta plan to grow their own cold viruses in the lab for the vaccine.

Within the first few months of your child's life, your pediatrician will likely start talking to you about immunizations. Even if your house is stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, it's important to know what options are out there to keep your kid safe from diseases that could have harmful consequences.

»RELATED: Your child needs a flu shot sooner than you think, according to new report

With all of the talk out there about the pros and cons of getting your child immunized, here are five things you need to know about how the process works and why doctors recommend it:

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What is immunization? 

TheWorld Health Organization defines immunization as the process that makes a person immune or resistant to an infectious disease. The most common way to achieve this is by giving the person a vaccine. Over the past 200 or so years, doctors have been able to use vaccines to fight diseases that used to kill millions of people, including young children, every year.

How does immunization work? 

Vaccines are usually given through a needle injection, though Verywell noted there are some that can be given through the mouth or the nose.

According to WebMD, once a vaccine enters the body, it helps the immune system develop antibodies that fight the virus or bacteria that causes that specific illness. (The process can take a few weeks, so your child won't instantly become immune.) The next time your child runs into that virus or bacteria, his body will have the tools it needs to fight off the illness.

Does my child really need to be vaccinated?

If you plan to enroll your child in a daycare or school, there may be minimum vaccination requirements before they can get started. According to he National Vaccine Information Center, exceptions can be made based on certain medical or religious grounds, but an application is required.

If you don't have any medical or religious concerns, vaccines are strongly encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control to help slow the progress of infections. When more people get vaccinated against a certain disease, outbreaks can be prevented because the germs won't be able to travel as fast through the population. This is called community immunity.

Which vaccines are recommended for kids?

The CDC website lists 16 potentially harmful diseases that their recommended vaccines can protect against. Those diseases are:

Each vaccine should be taken during a specific age range, so be sure to talk to your child's doctor to find out the right time to bring them in for their shots.

What are the risks involved with vaccines?

KidsHealth says the most common reactions to vaccines are fever and redness, swelling and soreness where the shot was given. In rare cases, patients have had seizures or severe allergic reactions. If you're concerned about side effects, Parents Magazine has some tips for easing the sting and making your child's first immunization experience as comfortable as possible.

If you have questions about vaccines or side effects, it's best to talk to your child's doctor.

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Does your child have a food allergy? Here's how to tell

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

Mom Criticized For Feeding Child Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich at Target

Food allergies are a growing problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in the cases of children, an allergic reaction to something as simple as sandwich could potentially be life-threatening.

About 4-6 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies, and it's important to know whether your child is among this group.

»RELATED: 8 most common food allergies

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Here's what will help you determine if your child has a food allergy:

The definitive guide to alt-milks like almond, soy and even banana

Common triggers

The most common food allergies in children are reactions to peanuts and milk. Allergies to eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and tree nuts (such as pecans, walnuts and cashews) are also very common. Children can outgrow some allergies, but the most severe ones can last throughout their lifetimes. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are often the most severe and the most likely to persist.

Delaying food allergies

You can't prevent your child from developing a food allergy, but you can sometimes delay it in infants by doing the following:

  • Breastfeeding for the first six months if possible
  • Delaying solid foods until your child is at least six months old
  • Avoiding cow's milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish until your child is over one year of age

»RELATED: Food allergies may be linked to baby wipes, study says

Symptoms

When your child is very young, you'll have to be observant to pick up on signs of food allergies that he or she may not be able to communicate. In some cases, a baby can even have an allergic reaction to a food they're exposed to through breast milk. As your child gets older, they'll be able to describe the symptoms better but still may need to be asked questions about how they feel.

»RELATED: Is this pill the answer to severe peanut allergies?

Common symptoms of a food allergy you should watch out for include the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, face or other body part
  • Wheezing, congestion or difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

Identifying the allergen

When your child is young, introducing one new food at a time can help pinpoint a potential allergen (allergy-causing substance) more easily. A visit to an allergist or pediatric allergist can definitively identify (or rule out) the food – or foods – your child is allergic to by using a skin or patch test or another method.

(An EpiPen, used to treat anaphylactic shock. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group/TNS via Getty Images))

What are the next steps?

Since there's no medication available to treat food allergies, the goal is to avoid foods that cause your child's symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. You'll have to learn what foods to help your child avoid and depending on which foods he or she can't eat, vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended.

Some children can be given certain foods carefully in a few months, but only under the direction of a health care provider. This will help you know if your child has outgrown the allergy.

If your child has a food allergy, the doctor will probably recommend an emergency kit that contains epinephrine. This medication, which can be purchased under the brand name EpiPen or as a generic medication, can help stop a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

You, your child (if he or she is old enough) and any caregivers should know how to administer epinephrine if needed. If your child is school age, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) offers tips to help keep them safe while they're at school, starting with a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan that you can download in English as well as Spanish.

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Man dies after eating raw oysters at Florida restaurant, report says

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

How To Avoid Vibrio Vulnificus

A man died from a Vibrio vulnificus bacterial infection after eating raw oysters at a Florida restaurant, health officials say.

>> Texas woman dies after contracting flesh-eating disease from raw oysters

The 71-year-old man reportedly died two days after eating the raw oysters in a Sarasota restaurant. Health officials have not said which restaurant.

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>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Restaurants are swapping out seafood — and it could make you sick 

"We have an individual that consumed some raw oysters and to the best of our knowledge had no exposure to salt water, became severely ill and passed away," said Michael Drennon, disease intervention services program manager at the Sarasota County Health Department.

Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is found in salt water and raw or undercooked shell fish. Health officials warn against eating raw or undercooked shell fish or getting into salt water with open wounds. 

The Florida Department of Health's website says symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or fever.

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The health department's website also reports 16 confirmed cases of Vibro vulnificus this year, three of them fatal. 

According to WTVT, the health department is working with the restaurant to gather information during their investigation into this death. 

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