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by Abigail Van Buren

Fear of Coming Out Causes Man to Withdraw From Life

DEAR ABBY: I have a delicate problem concerning my daughter-in-law, "Sheila," and my 1-year-old grandson, "Cary." I consider Sheila to be an unfit mother. Her house is filthy, including the kitchen. She allows Cary to eat cat food when he crawls around on the dirty floors.

Sheila has been giving Cary various medications since he was only a week old. When he would cry, she would give him drops to relieve "the gas." Next, it was a gel for his teething ailments when he was only 3 months old -- she still gives it to him three times a day. She has also been giving him Tylenol every day "to help him sleep."

Abby, our grandson is beginning to look a bit yellow, and we're afraid he may have some liver damage. We're afraid to speak out because we don't want to cause a rift in the family. I have considered writing a letter to his pediatrician, but I'm not sure it would be taken seriously. What can we do? -- WORRIED SICK IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR WORRIED SICK: You are justifiably concerned about your grandson's safety and welfare, so pick up the phone and call Childhelp USA. All calls are confidential, and your anonymity will be preserved. The number to call is (800) 422-4453. It's a 24-hour toll-free helpline, and the people who man those phones can help you report what's happening to the proper authorities in your state. You may also log on to � HYPERLINK "" ���.