Home Emergency Medicine Children’s Firearm Injuries Up Risk for New Mental Health Diagnoses

Children’s Firearm Injuries Up Risk for New Mental Health Diagnoses

Findings driven by substance-related and addictive disorders, trauma and stressor-related disorders

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Children were found to have more than 50 percent increased odds of a new mental health diagnosis in the year following a firearm injury versus a motor vehicle collision, according to a study published in the September issue of the Annals of Surgery.

Peter F. Ehrlich, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used Medicaid MarketScan claims (2010 to 2016) to identify 1,450 children (aged 3 to 17 years) with firearm injuries and 3,691 matched children with motor vehicle crash injuries.

The researchers found that compared with children with motor vehicle injuries, children with firearm injuries were more likely to be Black, have a higher injury severity score, and receive hospital admission from the emergency department. The odds of new mental health diagnoses in the year after firearm injury were higher (adjusted odds ratio, 1.55) versus motor vehicle crash injuries; the odds were also higher among children admitted to the hospital versus those discharged. After firearm injuries, the increased odds of new mental health diagnoses were driven by increases in substance-related and addictive disorders (adjusted odds ratio, 2.08) and trauma and stressor-related disorders (adjusted odds ratio, 2.07).

“We know that trauma exposure, such as that experienced with a firearm injury, is a well-established risk factor for child mental health conditions, but until recently we knew very little about the mental health consequences following a firearm injury,” Ehrlich said in a statement. “We hope that our study will illuminate the magnitude and types of disorders most likely to arise in young firearm injury survivors, so they can receive timely diagnosis and care.”

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