Senate approves Lauria bill to spread info about Type 1 diabetes through schools


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria to help protect children’s health by providing information about Type 1 diabetes to the parents and guardians of all public-school children.

“Diabetes is a manageable condition, provided it is identified. When it is not, it can lead to serious complications that no one wants for their child,” said Senator Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), who works a nurse practitioner. “Providing this information through school is a way to reach families of all children — particularly those who may not be seeing a pediatrician regularly — with important information about the signs and risk factors, and the critical importance of getting diabetes diagnosed and treated so their children do not needlessly suffer.”

The legislation (2024-S 2516) directs the Department of Education to consult with the Department of Health to develop Type 1 diabetes informational materials for parents and guardians, including a description of Type 1 diabetes and risk factors, and recommendations that students displaying its warning signs be screened by their primary care provider. The legislation requires that by Jan. 1, 2025, the information be provided to the parent or guardian of every student in every public school, including charters and mayoral academies, upon their initial enrollment, and be made available on the Department of Education website.

Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin, the hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, and it is sometimes linked to genetics or certain viruses. No cure yet exists, and treatment involves managing sugar in the blood using insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.

The legislation is supported by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, whose advocacy chairman, Dr. Gregory Fox testified that it would help erase stigma about Type 1 diabetes, help parents identify it before it advances and encourage larger-scale screening programs.

The legislation now goes to the House, which has approved companion legislation  (2024-H 7613) sponsored by House Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Portsmouth, Bristol).