Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One Small Step For Our Children

Many of you may remember my sad story about the twelve-year-old girl who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes*. I thought, “If only this girl had been tested, maybe she would have been spared the complications from which she now suffers.”
photo courtesy of kaboodle.com
Moved to act, I wrote a letter to New York State Senator, Catharine Young, sharing the story of the young girl. I also shared the story of my seven-year-old son. Expressing concern for children that may be living with undetected diabetes, I suggested diabetes screening for school children. The test would be relatively inexpensive if test strips were used. 
Today I received a reply from Senator Young. In her letter, she shared with me that there is currently an Assembly bill that “would require a risk analysis and testing for diabetes for high risk youth, before entering 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 10th grades.”  The legislation is now before the Assembly Education Committee. 
photo courtesy of hertzfurniture.com
I did some research and found Assembly bill 1320 and read what it encompasses. The justification for the bill states, “Diabetes rates in New York State increased by more than 50% from 1994 to 2001. Most of this increase is in the form of Type 2 diabetes, which is related to obesity and lifestyle.”
The bill also states, “A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study estimates that one in
three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic in their lifetime unless this trend is reversed.”
While I’m glad to hear that the Senate is taking this epidemic seriously, I am concerned about a couple of things. 
How long before this bill is enacted? Here is the history of the bill to date:
2004 - A.9176 2005-2006 -  A.2167-A Referred to Education
2007/08 - A3826a - Amend and Recommit to education
2009/10 - A5701 - Referred to Education
This bill has been passed around since 2004. It’s time to stop playing politics with our children and get this done. Obviously, someone was smart enough to see diabetes as an increasing problem or they never would have written this bill. 
Another concern.

 This bill focuses quite a bit on Type 2 diabetes. Children will be singled out based on ethnicity and weight. If a child is in the African-American or Hispanic category, they are at greater risk for  diabetes so they will be more closely monitored than their peers. This is also true of children that are obese. 
photo courtesy of hubpages.com

My son does not meet any of this criteria. At the time of his diagnosis, he weighed 56 pounds. He is also white. While he has a small amount of Native American heritage, that does not show up in his appearance. Would he have been monitored based on the predetermined criteria? 
Perhaps if a family history was provided.
Oops, no history of juvenile diabetes on either side of his family. There is a history of Type 2, or adult onset diabetes, but would this have set off any warning bells?
Overall, I am happy that this bill may be enacted into law. 
I would ask everyone reading this to prayerfully consider supporting this law and contact your local Senator. 
A copy of Assembly bill AO1320 can be read here:
photo courtesy of medheadlines.com
Diabetes can be controlled if it is caught in time. Children at high risk can get the help they need to avoid Type 2 diabetes. We can arm these children with information on healthy eating and exercise. Furthermore, children who may already have Juvenile diabetes, without showing any symptoms, could get treatment as soon as possible.

A list of Senators and contact information can be found here: http://www.nysenate.gov/senators
Officials don’t know what we are thinking if we don’t share our thoughts with them. 
photo courtesy of ammoland.com

“It is the input of New York’s citizens that brings about positive changes.” - Catharine M. Young, Senator, 57th District

*Blog Post I Heard a Sad Story the Other Day

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