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Leading Cause of Deaths in Children in 2020 Was Guns

By Steve Neavling

For decades, the leading cause of death for children and teens were car accidents and then drug overdoses. 

Not anymore.

In 2020, firearms took the lead, according to researchers who analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Time reports.

Between 2019 and 2020, gun-related deaths for people of all ages increased 13%, but for those aged 1-19, the rate increased by 30%, according to a research letter published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

About 10% of the 45,222 people who died as a result of gun violence in 2020 were children and teens. 

For adults, nearly two-thirds of the gun deaths were suicides. But for children and teens, homicides accounted for nearly two-thirds of the gun deaths. 

“This [increase] is probably linked in part to significant increases in firearm purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic but we don’t have the data systems to truly link those things,” Dr. Lois Lee, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who co-wrote a separate article on a related topic in the New England Journal of Medicine, tells TIME.


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