By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly
Periodically, we feel we should update you with facts about the state of children in America. We will give you information, numbers and statistics compiled by the Children’s Defense Fund. The stated mission of the Children’s Defense Fund is “to leave no child behind and to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life, and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.”

Did you know the following?
• A child is abused or neglected every 35 seconds — 906,000 a year — and dies from abuse or neglect every six hours in America. The number of children abused and neglected each year would fill the city of Detroit.
• A child is born into poverty every 36 seconds in America; 12.9 million children are poor and 5.6 million of them live in extreme poverty. The number of poor children equals the population of the state of Ohio or the nation of Zimbabwe.  The number of extremely poor children exceeds the population of Maryland or the nation of Libya.
• A child is killed by a firearm about every three hours — almost eight per day; 96,000 children have died from firearms in America since 1979. They would fill Boston’s Fenway Park nearly three times.
• A baby is born without health insurance every 42 seconds. More than 9 million children are uninsured; 85 percent of them have at least one working parent.  Their number exceeds the populations of New Jersey or the nation of Haiti.
What can you do?
• Inform your political leaders that the above facts are unacceptable.
• Ask your political leaders to make budget decisions that protect and ensure a safe environment for children.
• Ask your political leaders to give you their plan for ensuring a safe environment for children and to show you how they propose to accomplish this goal.
Dr. Sally Robinson is a pediatrician in the division of children’s special services at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She teaches medical students about caring for children with chronic medical conditions. Dr. Keith Bly is a hospitalist and assistant professor of pediatrics at UTMB.

The Your Health column is written by health and medical experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The column focuses on topical health issues that we believe are of interest to your readers. It is e-mailed every Tuesday. If you have any questions about the column, or would like to suggest topics, please contact John Koloen, media relations specialist, at (409) 772-8790 or email