TUESDAY, Jan. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 1976 to 2016, there was a decrease in the proportion of families who had young children and owned firearms, although an increase was seen in the proportion who owned handguns, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in Pediatrics.

Kate C. Prickett, Ph.D., from the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, and colleagues merged individual-level data from the National Vital Statistics System with household-level data from the General Social Survey to create national-level estimates of firearm-related child mortality and family firearm ownership from 1976 to 2016.

The researchers noted a decrease in the proportion of non-Hispanic white families who had young children and owned firearms, from 50 percent in 1976 to 45 percent in 2016; among non-Hispanic African-American families, the decrease was from 38 to 6 percent. There was an increase in the proportion of white families who had young children and owned handguns, from 25 to 32 percent; 72 percent of families who own firearms now own handguns. The recent increase in firearm-related white child mortality was partially explained by increases in handgun ownership (net of changes in the sociodemographic composition of firearm-owning families).

“In an era in which firearm-related deaths constitute a public health crisis, the rising firearm-related young child mortality rate in the context of declining firearm ownership highlights the importance of understanding the factors that drive firearm-related deaths,” the authors write.

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