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Gun Deaths A Major Factor In U.S. Child Mortality Increase

After decades of improvement, the death rate of children and teens shot up between 2019 and 2021. Gun-related deaths represented the largest share of the increase by far, reports Stateline. According to an analysis of death certificate data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the mortality rate among children ages 1 to 19 rose by 11% between 2019 and 2020, and by an additional 8% between 2020 and 2021. It is the first time in recent memory that child death rates have risen substantially, said Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor of population health and health equity at Virginia Commonwealth University and lead author of the study. It the biggest increase in U.S. child mortality in more than 50 years, according to the study.

“We’ve made tremendous progress in treating childhood diseases and preventing a wide range of childhood accidents,” Woolf said. “But all of those improvements, and all of that progress and all of those medical advances are now being offset by four things: homicide, suicide, drug overdoses and car crashes." The Pew Research Center said the number of children and teens under 18 who died from guns spiked by 50% between 2019 and 2021. A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 25% of parents of children under 18 said they worry “every day” (12%) or “almost every day” (13%) about themselves or someone they love becoming a victim of gun violence. Although most of the increased deaths during the pandemic were among children ages 10 to 19, deaths among younger children ages 1 to 9 rose by more than 8%. Because state policies and access to mental health and medical care play a major role in preventing child deaths, the likelihood that a child will reach adulthood varies depending on where they live. Montana had the highest child death rate in 2021 at 28 per 100,000 children, followed by Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Georgia. Massachusetts had the lowest child mortality rate at two per 100,000.


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