Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that interferes with the body’s ability to produce or use insulin, impairing the ability to metabolize food. Diabetes management balances careful control of diet, exercise and medication. Frequent monitoring or checking1 of blood glucose levels is critical to diabetes management. Timely blood sugar monitoring and prompt intervention are necessary to prevent life threatening hypoglycemic episodes. Equally important2, close monitoring to maintain blood glucose levels within a specified range is essential to prevent long-term complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and serious impairment of circulation that may require amputations.
The benefits of allowing blood glucose self-monitoring are significant. Students learn better when their blood glucose levels are within the proper range. Students who self-monitor in the classroom or in other locations outside the school health office can more readily adjust their blood sugar levels. They spend less time out of class and thus lose out on fewer learning opportunities provided to children without diabetes. They also gain independence and self-confidence and experience fewer stigmas when monitoring is treated as a regular occurrence.
The State Board of Education encourages families, schools and medical providers to work together to develop district policies and procedures. These policies and procedures should recognize the capabilities of students to participate in the management of their diabetes, with the ultimate goal of independent management. School districts should also recognize that decisions about self-monitoring should be made on a case-by-case basis, with the participation of the family, school, medical providers and with respect for individual needs and preferences of students regarding privacy and confidentiality.
For more information on the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Guidelines for Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring in School contact:
Stephanie G. Knutson, MSN, RN,
School Health Consultant
Connecticut State Department of Education
Bureau of Health/Nutrition, Family Services and Adult Education
450 Columbus Blvd., Suite 504
Hartford, CT 06103
1. Although the terms “blood glucose testing” and “blood glucose checking” are also common, these guidelines use the term monitoring. Please note that these guidelines cover blood glucose monitoring only, not urine tests for ketones.
2. The landmark Diabetes Control and Complications Trials (DCCT) demonstrate that better glucose control significantly decreases the risk for long-term complications. For example, risk of diabetic eye disease was reduced by 76%; kidney disease by 50%; and nerve disease by 60%. The results were so striking that investigators ended the study early so conventionally treated patients could also realize the benefits of intensive diabetes management.