May 26, 2024

House approves Donovan bill to spread info about Type 1 diabetes through schools

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State House – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by House Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Susan R. Donovan to help protect children’s health by providing information about Type 1 diabetes to the parents and guardians of all public school children.

“Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that can be managed very successfully, provided it is recognized and treated. Catching it early on can prevent a health crisis for a child, and enable them to have just as full a childhood as their friends. Providing information about Type 1 diabetes when children are enrolled in elementary school will help parents recognize the early signs and talk to their pediatrician, so children do not suffer unnecessarily from preventable complications,” said Chairwoman Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) who retired after a career as a health and physical education teacher in the Bristol-Warren Regional School District.

The legislation (2024-H 7613) directs the Department of Education to consult with the Department of Health to develop Type 1 diabetes informational materials for parents and guardians, including a description of Type 1 diabetes and risk factors, and recommendations that students displaying its warning signs be screened by their primary care provider. The legislation requires that by Jan. 1, 2025, the information be provided to the parent or guardian of every student in every public school, including charters and mayoral academies, upon their initial enrollment, and be made available on the Department of Education website.

Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin, the hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, and it is sometimes linked to genetics or certain viruses. No cure yet exists, and treatment involves managing sugar in the blood using insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.

The legislation is supported by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose advocacy chairman, Dr. Gregory Fox, told the House Education Committee it would help erase stigma about Type 1 diabetes, help parents identify it before it advances and encourage larger-scale screening programs.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Pamela J. Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-S 2516).

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