Air Guns Pose Safety Hazard for Children

To assess the current rate and severity of air gun injury, Chief of Pediatric Surgery Trey Eubanks, MD, and colleagues from five other Level 1 pediatric trauma centers, part of the Arizona-Texas-Oklahoma-Memphis- Arkansas (ATOMAC) Consortium, performed a retrospective study of air gun injuries treated at their trauma centers from 2007 to 2016.

The researchers found 499 children with an average age of 9.5 were injured by air guns and treated at the participating trauma centers. Of the 499 children, 331 were admitted to the hospital, and 151 required surgery. It cost an average of $24,000 to treat each injury.

In 2011, air guns caused 16,451 injuries, and more than half of these injuries (62.5 percent) affected children age 19 or younger. In 2018, air gun injuries totaled 12,660 for all ages, with 9,273 injuries among children.

Due to a trend toward increasing projectile velocities, the study predicted that air guns will cause more severe injuries in the future. As 80 percent of these injuries were accidental, greater awareness of the potential for injuries and stricter regulations may be needed to curb this health concern.

Apelt N, Greenwell C, Tweed J, et al. Air Guns: A Contemporary Review of Injuries at Six Pediatric Level I Trauma Centers [published online ahead of print, 2019 Dec 11]. J Surg Res. 2019;248:1–6. doi:10.1016/j.jss.2019.11.002

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