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Canadian Paediatric Society

New data shows more needs to be done to keep kids with diabetes safe at school

Nov 16 2017

OTTAWA – Nearly one-third of Ontario parents aren’t confident that school staff can keep their kids with type 1 diabetes safe, according to new data released today by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

Preliminary results from a survey of Ontario parents of school-aged children with type 1 diabetes show that:

  • More than half of school-aged kids with type 1 diabetes do not have individual care plans;
  • 21% of parents reduce their child’s insulin at least once a week because they are concerned about hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) at school; and
  • Nearly 13% of parents go to their child’s school at least once a week to monitor their care.

About 30,000 school-aged children in Canada (including about 7,000 in Ontario) have type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease where the pancreas no longer produces insulin. Children under five years old are the fastest group of newly diagnosed cases. With about 1 in 300 children currently affected, it is likely that every school will have at least one child with type 1 diabetes.

“The management of type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 task – checking blood sugar, administering insulin, planning meals, and monitoring food intake and physical activity,” said Dr. Sarah Lawrence, Chief of Endocrinology at CHEO. “Considering that children spend about 30 to 35 hours per week in school, it is imperative that staff be educated, equipped and available to support children.”

To ensure that school staff are adequately trained, the CPS, along with Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Endocrine Group (CPEG), have launched a series of new educational videos as part of the Diabetes@School initiative. Launched last year, Diabetes@School was developed to ensure that school staff and administrators have the training and resources required to support students with type 1 diabetes.

“These videos will help minimize the barriers that can prevent students with type 1 diabetes from full and safe inclusion,” said Dr. Mike Dickinson, President of the Canadian Paediatric Society. “Diabetes@School provides consistent and evidence-based resources, which are critical to ensuring that school staff feel confident and well equipped to support students.”

In October, the Ontario Ministry of Education released a Policy and Program Memorandum that will require all school boards to ensure that students with conditions like diabetes to have a care plan. The CPS and other diabetes advocates are urging the Ministry to also require schools to designate staff to help with specific aspects of daily and emergency management.

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About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Nov 16 2017