Public Release: 

Study finds injuries from nonpowder guns severe among children

As airsoft, BB and paintball guns begin to rival the power of traditional firearms, injuries from these 'toy' weapons treated at a large metropolitan children's hospital demonstrate a significant threat to pediatric patients' vision and lives

American Academy of Pediatrics

WASHINGTON, DC - Researchers at a Dallas children's hospital aim to show that nonpowder firearms such as airsoft, BB, and paintball guns should not be viewed as toys, but rather powerful weapons causing increasingly severe and sometimes life-threatening injuries in pediatric patients.

A new study being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Conference and Exhibition in Washington, DC, looked at medical records of patients treated at Children's Medical Center Dallas after being injured by nonpowder guns between 2010 and 2013. Of the 176 patients studied, 87 percent were male and 30 percent were under 10 years of age, said lead researcher Nina Mizuki Fitzgerald, MD, FAAP, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The majority of injuries were unintentional.

Twenty-nine percent of the children ultimately needed surgery to remove deeply embedded objects, repair structures of the eye, remove part of the skull or insert drains to relieve swelling resulting from traumatic brain injury. According to Dr. Fitzgerald, 10 percent of children suffered a lasting functional deficit, of which 83 percent were eye-related, and 8 percent of children ultimately had an eye removed surgically.

"Nonpowder guns are not toys, and an adult should always supervise their use by children," Dr. Fitzgerald said. In addition to following safety recommendations that children always wear eye protection when using a nonpowder gun, she said the study's findings suggest a need for stricter regulations of the muzzle velocities of nonpowder guns.

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Dr. Fitzgerald will present the abstract, "Recent Trends in Nonpowder Gun Injuries in Children at a Large Tertiary Care Children's Hospital," at 2:50 pm on Sunday, Oct. 25 in the Washington Marriott Marquis Independence Ballroom Salon E. To view the abstract, visit https://aap.confex.com/aap/2015/webprogrampreliminary/Paper31728.html.

Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal. Contact the researcher for more information.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org.

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