Diabetes management can drain anyone. The multiple daily needle sticks, constant need to estimate carbohydrate intake and occasional hypoglycemic dizzy spells are tough to manage. These challenges may be magnified for kids with diabetes, who often find it difficult to stay on top of managing their condition while also juggling school, sports and time with friends.
Yet, 19-year-old Henry Abrams, a Cape Cod teen diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, says he’s grateful for its life lessons.
Henry, currently an engineering student at University of Massachusetts, credits his ability to keep his glucose levels under control to his math finesse. “I can estimate the amount of sugar in food and make the adjustments I need.”
Henry’s mother, Lysbeth Abrams, says he’s taken the diagnosis in stride from day 1, finding ample opportunities to learn from his condition, whether it be math or nutrition or task management.
When a child suffers from nutrition related health problems, it can cause a good deal of emotional and financial strain on her family. Obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol often lead to pricey medications and doctor visits, and are sometimes tied to emotional issues that can be costly to treat.
On the flip side, eating disorders can have a devastating affect on a person’s health and usually take years of regular therapy to treat successfully.
Treating these conditions in a single child is expensive; when you add together the cumulative costs of treating them on national level, the numbers are astronomical. But researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that a fairly inexpensive health promotion initiative could reduce both obesity and bulimia nervosa in adolescents, potentially saving millions in would-be healthcare costs.
Their study, recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, shows that by adopting an educational initiative called Planet Health, five Boston area schools successfully reduced the prevalence of obesity and behaviors linked to bulimia. If these Boston schools are any indication, a nationwide adoption of the program could lead to less obesity and eating disorders on a national level, thereby saving millions in healthcare dollars usually allotted to treating these conditions.
In September of 2007, my son Noah started first grade. He was very excited, but after a few weeks of school, I noticed he was acting more and more tired all the time. After a few weeks, it seemed like all he did was sleep: falling asleep in the car to and from activities, dozing off while watching TV, he once even fell asleep on the bleachers at a baseball game. As parents we knew kids Noah’s age needed more rest to grow, but the extreme fatigue was starting to worry us. Pretty soon it was apparent that a trip to the doctor was in order.
In today’s tech savvy world, we can use social media for just about everything. Facebook can function as a never-ending class reunion, Twitter lets us keep tabs on close friends and celebrities alike and now, social media can even be used to track our health and share with others.
One such site is TuDiabetes.org, a social network for people with or affected by diabetes. It currently has almost 14,700 members. The website recently partnered with Children’s Hospital Boston to create a new online application where members can communicate their Hemoglobin A1c levels–a health metric used to measure a person’s control over his or her diabetes over a prolonged period of time–within the TuDiabetes community.
Called TuAnalyze, the new applications enables TuDiabetes members to easily share (publicly or anonymously) some of their health history as part of a massive data donation drive being conducted to enhance public knowledge of the disease and possibly improve its research and treatment.