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Inj Prev 8:185-191 doi:10.1136/ip.8.3.185
  • Original Article

Trends in BB/pellet gun injuries in children and teenagers in the United States, 1985–99

  1. M H Nguyen1,
  2. J L Annest1,
  3. J A Mercy1,
  4. G W Ryan1,
  5. L A Fingerhut2
  1. 1National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  2. 2National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J Lee Annest, Director, Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy (MS-K59), Atlanta, GA 30341–3724, USA;
 lannest{at}cdc.gov

    Abstract

    Objective: To characterize national trends in non-fatal BB/pellet gun related injury rates for persons aged 19 years or younger in relation to trends in non-fatal and fatal firearm related injury rates and discuss these trends in light of injury prevention and violence prevention efforts.

    Setting: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) includes approximately 100 hospitals with at least six beds that provide emergency services. These hospitals comprise a stratified probability sample of all US hospitals with emergency departments. The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) is a complete census of all death certificates filed by states and is compiled annually.

    Methods: National data on BB/pellet gun related injuries and injury rates were examined along with fatal and non-fatal firearm related injuries and injury rates. Non-fatal injury data for all BB/pellet gun related injury cases from 1985 through 1999, and firearm related injury cases from 1993 through 1999 were obtained from hospital emergency department records using the NEISS. Firearm related deaths from 1985 through 1999 were obtained from the NVSS.

    Results: BB/pellet gun related injury rates increased from age 3 years to a peak at age 13 years and declined thereafter. In contrast, firearm related injury and death rates increased gradually until age 13 and then increased sharply until age 18 years. For persons aged 19 years and younger, BB/pellet gun related injury rates increased from the late 1980s until the early 1990s and then declined until 1999; these injury rates per 100 000 population were 24.0 in 1988, 32.8 in 1992, and 18.3 in 1999. This trend was similar to those for fatal and non-fatal firearm related injury rates per 100 000 which were 4.5 in 1985, 7.8 in 1993, and 4.3 in 1999 (fatal) and 38.6 in 1993 and 16.3 in 1999 (non-fatal). In 1999, an estimated 14 313 (95% confidence interval (CI) 12 025 to 16 601) cases with non-fatal BB/pellet gun injuries and an estimated 12 748 (95% CI 7881–17 615) cases with non-fatal firearm related injuries among persons aged 19 years and younger were treated in US hospital emergency departments.

    Conclusions: BB/pellet gun related and firearm related injury rates show similar declines since the early 1990s. These declines coincide with a growing number of prevention efforts aimed at reducing injuries to children from unsupervised access to guns and from youth violence. Evaluations at the state and local level are needed to determine true associations.

    Footnotes

    • * Frequently, only one entry on the emergency department record is available for either race or identity, not for both. The classification scheme used in this study assumed that most white Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islander Hispanics, or American Indian/Alaskan Native Hispanics, were likely to be recorded on the emergency department record as Hispanic and most black Hispanics were likely to be recorded as black.

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