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February 17, 2003

School and Daycare

Question from Glenview, Illinois, USA:

I realize that theoretically diabetes should not be affecting school work and abilities because the blood glucose should be balanced. Unfortunately, getting a child in puberty balanced seems almost impossible. What I'd like to know and can't seem to find out is whether there have been any studies done on the grade point average or scholastic achievements of children with diabetes versus children without it where other factors are similar (sort of a test/control thing across a number of schools or something). If so, what did it yield? If not, are there plans for this or is one in process currently?


During my reading this week, I came across an article that addresses this very issue. In an article in January 2003 issue of Diabetes Care by McCarthy et al, University of Iowa, it was noted that “for most children with diabetes, medical variables are not as strongly associated with academic achievement as are factors such as socioeconomic status and behavioral factors.” It is also noted that the exceptions are hypoglycemia and poor metabolic control. These results are similar to those from previous studies.

You throw in puberty with greater variability of schedule and learning to be autonomous and there are difficulties, especially if the child’s diabetes causes him/her to miss a lot of class. If your child is having significant problems, I would check with his physician and see if additional steps can be taken to improve control and prevent hypoglycemia.

Additional comments from Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell:

A number of researchers have looked at the impact of diabetes on academic achievement. You may wish to do a literature search (PubMed from the NIH is free via the Internet) on the following authors: Christopher Ryan, Clarissa Holmes, Barbara Anderson, Joanne Rovet.


[Editor’s comment: See McCarthy AM, Lindgren S, Mengeling MA, Tsalikian E, Engvall J. Factors associated with academic achievement in children with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003 Jan;26(1):112-7.