Assembly approves bill to spread info about type 1 diabetes through schools


STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly gave final approval today to legislation sponsored by House Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Susan R.
Donovan and Sen. Pamela J. Lauria to help protect children’s health by providing information about type 1 diabetes to the parents and guardians of all public-school children. The bill now heads to the governor.

“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,” 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.

Said Senator Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), who works as a nurse practitioner. “Providing this information through school is a way to reach families of all children — particularly those who may not be seeing a pediatrician regularly — with important information about the signs and risk factors, and the critical importance of getting diabetes diagnosed and treated so their children do not needlessly suffer.”

The legislation (2024-H 7613, 2024-S 2516) 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 testified that it would help erase stigma about type 1 diabetes, help parents identify it before it advances and encourage larger-scale screening programs.

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