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October 26, 1999

Hypoglycemia, Social Issues: School and Daycare

Question from Wisconsin, USA:

My son, age 14, has just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He is not taking the time to eat his mid-morning snack at school, thus has a low blood sugar count when he comes home for lunch, between 50-70. School policy is that kids are not allowed to eat in the hallways. We are talking high school here: he has 10 minutes between classes to go to cafeteria or health room, but the distance this quarter doesn't give him enough time to go to either place and make it to his next class in time. What can we do? I have already spoken to the school nurse, she argues he has plenty of time to get to his next class.


Have you thought of using those small plastic baggies for snacks (the really small ones) and putting Ritz Bits crackers inside? That is one idea the kids seem to like: unobtrusive and easy to stash in a pocket or backpack. Also, they can pop them in their mouths without calling attention to themselves. The school sounds a bit rigid about this in my opinion. It isn’t like he is trying to do something repulsive-he simply has to eat!

You have my compassion for the fact that he is 14 at diagnosis. Longtime readers know that I think being 14 and having to do diabetes is an extraordinary task.

Additional comments from Dr. Lebinger:

Although I agree with the suggestion to try and eat non-obtrusive snacks between classes, I find that many teenagers just won’t eat a morning snack even if the school allows it (which they should). It sounds like your child is coming home for lunch, and it is important to avoid a low blood sugar walking home or coming home on the school bus. Perhaps he would at least eat his morning snack before he leaves the school to come home for lunch or on his way home. Also, you might want to discuss with his doctor lowering his morning insulin to avoid lunchtime lows. If he only has had diabetes for two weeks, he may be entering the remission phase and need less insulin anyway.