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Guns become leading cause of death for children and adolescents in America

Guns have become the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States, surpassing car crashes, according to the New England Journal of Medicine

A research letter from the medical journal examined mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found there were more than 4,300 firearm-related deaths among people under 19 in the U.S. in 2020, a 29 percent increase from 2019, NBC News reports. Jason Goldstick, co-author of the letter, told NBC that "in the last 40 years, and almost certainly before that, this is the first time that firearm injuries have surpassed motor vehicle crashes among kids." 

The increase in firearm-related deaths among children and adolescents was "more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population," the letter said. There were over 45,000 firearm-related deaths in total.

Drug overdose and poisoning was the third leading cause of death among children and adolescents, increasing 83.6 percent from 2019 to 2020. Meanwhile, the number of deaths from car crashes has declined following the implementation of various safety improvements, and there were 3,900 of crash deaths among children and adolescents in 2020. 

"As the progress made in reducing deaths from motor vehicle crashes shows, we don't have to accept the high rate of firearm-related deaths among U.S. children and adolescents," an article in the New England Journal of Medicine said. "To reverse the trend of increasing firearm-related deaths among U.S. children, experts and policymakers should be intentional in their efforts to develop and implement a multipronged scientific strategy centered on continuous improvement."