School-age children with diabetes face unique challenges and sometimes dangerous situations tied to their oftentimes unpredictable glucose levels.
To help teachers, principals and others ensure the safety of youngsters with diabetes during the school day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Diabetes Education Program has updated its manual, Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel (www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/schoolguide).
Parents will find the guide useful because it explains specific health information a school needs to help a child manage diabetes and prepare for a diabetes-related emergency.
"The need to manage diabetes doesn’t go away at school," said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health."The guide, quite literally, can be a lifesaver."
"Everyone, from bus drivers to teachers to administrators, has a role in helping students with diabetes succeed,>" said NDEP’s Executive Committee Chair, Martha Funnell, R.N., of the University of Michigan. >"This guide does a great job of explaining the critical role that school staff members at every level can play.>"
Diabetes management remains an evolving science. The guide’s latest edition, the first update since 2003, describes the most current recommendations of leading health care experts for developing a diabetes management plan to handle diabetes-related emergencies.
Training is recommended for all school staff members who have responsibility for students with diabetes. The training should provide a basic understanding of the disease, the needs of a child with diabetes and the symptoms signaling a diabetic emergency. Also, a few staff members at every school should be trained in student-specific routine and emergency diabetes care tasks so that at least one staff member is always available for younger, less experienced students and for any student with diabetes in case of an emergency, the guide says.
The guide urges parents to notify school officials that a child has diabetes and to work with the child’s personal diabetes health care team to develop a diabetes medical management plan. It also recommends that parents permit sharing of relevant medical information by the school and the child's health care team.
"This manual lays the groundwork for the kind of training and preparation necessary to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone," said pediatric endocrinologist Francine Kaufman, M.D., head of the NDEP working group that developed the guidance. Until she joined Medtronic, Inc. in 2008, Kaufman headed the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the body does not produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugars, starches and other food into energy. Although most prevalent in older adults, it is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents.
About 19,000 young people are diagnosed with diabetes annually. The vast majority have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease resulting from defects in the pancreas. A smaller number of children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the type of diabetes that typically shows up in adulthood. However, as obesity rates have increased among youth, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents also is rising, especially for children in ethnic and racial minorities.
Children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of serious complications, including heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations.
NDEP is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NDEP involves more than 200 public and private sector partners who work at the national, state, and local level. The NDEP Guide, along with many other materials, is available on the NDEP website at www.YourDiabetesInfo.org or by calling toll-free 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337).
The NIDDK, a component of the (NIH), conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see www.niddk.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.