THE YOU DOCS Steps can re­duce pe­di­atric gun deaths

Stamford Advocate - - Advice/games - Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Q: The amount of gun vi­o­lence in this coun­try gets more fright­en­ing ev­ery day. Chil­dren are fre­quently vic­tims! What’s go­ing on?

Jayne G., Lin­coln, Ne­braska

A: The lat­est heartbreaking tale of the death of a child from firearms is about a 3-year-old boy in In­di­ana who found a loaded semi­au­to­matic ri­fle and shot him­self in the face. That comes two weeks af­ter a 2-year-old boy in Louisiana grabbed a gun from a kitchen counter and killed him­self.

Each and ev­ery year from 2002 to 2014, nearly 1,300 chil­dren up to age 17 died, while 5,790 were treated for gun­shot wounds, ac­cord­ing to a study in the jour­nal Pe­di­atrics. And from 2014 to 2015, Stan­ford Univer­sity re­searchers say there were 2,715 pe­di­atric firearm fa­tal­i­ties.

How does this hap­pen? A study pre­sented at the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Pe­di­atrics 2018 Na­tional Con­fer­ence found that around one in three chil­dren live in homes with a firearm. And only 34 per­cent of par­ents stored their gun locked, un­loaded and sep­a­rate from am­mu­ni­tion.

On top of that, par­ents of­ten fail to ask about firearm stor­age in homes where their chil­dren spend time. (Both the 2- and 3-year-old who shot them­selves were not at home.)

In ad­di­tion, most par­ents as­sume kids can tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a toy gun and a real one. But re­searchers from Emory Univer­sity School of Medicine say that in their test, only 41 per­cent of chil­dren 7 to 17 iden­ti­fied both cor­rectly.

What can be done? — Es­tab­lish re­spon­si­ble gun laws. Stan­ford Med­i­cal School re­searchers found that there are twice as many pe­di­atric firearm deaths in states with the most le­nient gun reg­u­la­tions com­pared with states where gun laws are strictest.

— Lock away guns, and se­cure am­mu­ni­tion sep­a­rately.

— Par­ents, in­quire if there’s a gun where your child will be spend­ing time and how it’s se­cured. If it’s not, get your kid and leave.

— And the 66 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who fa­vor stricter gun-safety leg­is­la­tion, let your representatives know. Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer at the Cleve­land Clinic Well­ness In­sti­tute. Sub­mit your health ques­tions at www.doc­toroz.com.

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