Unless you have a child with diabetes, you probably don’t think about this disease very often.
But for parents raising children who deal with monitoring glucose levels, life can be unpredictable.
School-age children with diabetes face unique challenges and sometimes dangerous situations because of fluctuations in these 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 recently updated their guide, Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel.
The NDEP committee notes that everyone, from bus drivers to teachers to administrators, has a role in helping students with diabetes succeed, and that they hope this guide helps to explain 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The NDEP Guide, along with many other materials, is available on the NDEP website or by calling toll-free 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337).