Emergency department visits for firearm injuries among children doubled during the pandemic, according to a study published Monday.
The study, published in the academic journal Pediatrics, also found that the share of children who died in the hospital as the result of a firearm injury doubled during the same period.
Emergency room visits for firearm injuries increased from about 18 per 30 days between January 2017 and February 2020 to 36.1 per 30 days between March 2020 and November 2022, researchers found.
And deaths from firearm injuries among children and adolescents in the hospital increased from 3.1 percent before the pandemic to 6.1 percent during the pandemic, the study also shows.
Researchers based the study’s findings on firearm related emergency room visits at nine U.S. hospitals.
There were a total of 1,904 emergency department visits by children for firearm injuries during the study’s time frame, half of which were made by teens between 15 and 17, according to the study.
Boys were more likely than girls to go to the hospital for a firearm injury; males made up 80 percent of all firearm injury emergency room visits, the study shows.
Two out of three emergency room visits due to firearm injuries were made by Black children and teens, and 2 out of 3 were made by adolescents from low-income neighborhoods, researchers found.
The study states that the reasons behind the surge in firearm-related visits to the emergency room are multifaceted.
Researchers noted that gun sales increased dramatically during the pandemic.
“Access to guns stored unsafely in the home may have contributed to increases in self-inflicted and unintentional firearm injuries,” they wrote. “Simultaneously, psychosocial stressors and financial strains related to the pandemic may have led to increases in assault and self-inflicted firearm injuries.”
But the researchers said they are “cautious” about interpreting why firearm-related emergency room visits have skyrocketed.