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Our Dying Children

August 16, 1992

Children's health care is indeed in a crisis, and "Dying Young" (by Michael D'Antonio, July 12) could not have been more timely. Substitute the name Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles for Boston Children's Hospital and the problems would be even more severe.

A recent L.A. County Department of Health survey of 35 schools found that at 2 years of age only a third of all children had received all their necessary vaccinations. Immunization rates for infants and toddlers in the county are lower than in any other Western Hemisphere country except Bolivia. Children's tuberculosis cases in the county rose 20% from 1990 to 1991.

After a decade of only sporadic cases of measles, 4,049 cases, 17 fatal, were treated in Los Angeles in 1990. L.A. contains more abused children than any other U.S. city, and the largest number of gun-related injuries to children and adolescents in the country.

This hospital, which treated more than 61,000 emergency-room cases in 1991, most of them uninsured or underinsured, is the nation's second-largest children's hospital and a leader in pediatric research, but the burden has become too great. We urge the public to be aware of this health-care crisis and to carry that awareness with them into their polling booths in November.

ROBERT ADLER MD

HEAD, GENERAL PEDIATRICS

WILBERT MASON MD

ACTING HEAD, INFECTIOUS DISEASES

NANCY SCHONFELD MD

HEAD, EMERGENCY, TRANSPORT MEDICINE

J. E. STIBBARDS PH.D.

PRESIDENT AND CEO

Los Angeles

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