Almost half (46%) of primary school pupils with Type 1 diabetes report their parents have had to reduce hours or give up work to help them administer insulin injections, according to a new report from Diabetes UK.
Around a third (29%) of their secondary school counterparts have the same experience, according to the State of diabetes care in the UK 2009 report for which 661 children and young people with Type 1 diabetes were surveyed.
The survey also found that 65% of the primary school pupils questioned and 87% of the secondary school pupils, thought school staff did not have enough training in diabetes.
There are 20,000 children under the age of 15 with Type 1 diabetes in the UK and a 2008 Diabetes UK survey of primary schools in England found 52% of schools have children with diabetes yet 70% of these schools said parents had to come in to administer insulin.
The charity said it was worried about how prepared schools were to help these children for whom misjudged doses of insulin injections can result in hypoglycaemic episodes (hypos) or missed injections resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Diabetes UK chief executive, Douglas Smallwood, said: ???It is completely unacceptable that parents of children with diabetes are forced to forfeit their careers and risk financial hardship because of medical policy failings in schools.
???It is vital pupils have the correct support to control their condition within the school setting if they are to protect their short- and long-term health.???
Mr Smallwood referred to the recent death of Stockport pupil Sam Linton, who had asthma, as an example illustrating the need for the new government to address the ???long-standing failings??? in support of children with long-term medical conditions in UK schools.
???There is currently a postcode lottery with regard to effective partnerships between schools, local authorities and primary care organisations,??? he said.
???There are pockets of good practice but this must spread throughout the country to avoid children??he knew,” said Southard, who has a family history of diabetes. “She told me to have the doctor do a blood sugar screen.”
Southard took insulin shots for three months before getting hooked up to a pump, which better suits her active lifestyle, she said
The 27-year-old refuses to dial back on her activities, she said. If anything, it’s made her set bigger goals.
“If someone says ‘you can’t do that because you have diabetes,’ I’m going to do it just to prove them wrong,” she said.
She hopes the group will allow her teach younger diabetics how to balance a normal life with the self-awareness needed to manage the disease.
“I have to be in complete awareness of my body,” Southard said. “I have to do everything with caution and care.”
If diabetics don’t manage their blood sugar level, it can become dangerously high, leading to eye problems, kidney problems, heart and blood vessel disease and nerve damage, Hust said. Very low blood sugar – caused by too much insulin – can lead to loss of consciousness, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation reports.
“It’s mentally draining to always have to be so aware,” Southard said.
Managing the disease can be particularly difficult for college students, Hust said.
At age 18, patients often lose their pediatric diabetes specialist, and lose or change health insurance providers. When kids leave home and head to college, they are charged with planning their own schedule and meals.
“A lot of young adults feel alone – when they were younger they had a support system and now they don’t,” Hust said. “This (group) gives them a resource.”
The group is set to meet 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Cafe J, 2605 19th St. The free meeting will include appetizers, a presentation about insulin pumps and an American Diabetes Association discussion on new research.
Friends of diabetics and parents whose young children are diagnosed are also invited, Southard said. Most of all, she said, it’s a chance for diabetics to meet others with the disease.
“Sometimes It’s nice to just be in the same room as someone who’s going through what I am,” she said.
HEALTH/Organizer insists event won’t be pity party, but chance to share experiences