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October 25, 2001


Question from the USA:

My four year old daughter has had type 1 diabetes since age two and a half, and I am very concerned about the bioterror attacks and their effect on my daughter. We get our children vaccinated against the flu especially as recommended for children with diabetes. What about smallpox? Would she be even higher risk that the average child? What about anthrax? If the CDC recommends that we begin vaccinations again for smallpox, would our kids be first in line? I have spoken to many other parents who share this same concern. How can we protect our kids dealing with diabetes too?


The risks you are describing are very remote. Most kids with diabetes do not have more risk than anyone else. Please remember that the number of cases of anthrax or even anthrax exposure is still incredibly small considering the population of the United States is in the neighborhood of 290 million folks. During high stress times like these, it is important that we as adults place the stress and risks in perspective so that we do not cause our children to worry unnecessarily. We just have to have faith that our government organizations and military will work reasonably well to protect us — and to use common sense about what we should or should not be doing. If our children are stressed, this will show up in their play and in their questions. We should answer them honestly but without excessive details since they mostly want to be reassured that the adults are functioning and protecting them. If you as a parent are having some anxiety about all of this, as is true for most of us, then you may want to talk this over with your own doctor(s) and get appropriate assistance. If your kids are having some of these same anxieties, then your child’s doctor’s should also be consulted of course.