Lack of awareness in caregivers could lead to poorly controlled diabetes in children, warns new study.
Texas scientists set out to determine whether poorly controlled diabetes is associated with lower literacy/numerical skills of caregivers of children with type 1 diabetes.
They evaluated primary using Newest Vital Sign (NVS) and a sociodemographic questionnaire. The NVS identifies individuals who are at risk for low health literacy by measuring general literacy/numeracy skills and yields an overall estimate of health literacy. The NVS scores are interpreted to suggest inadequate, limited, or adequate literacy.
Two hundred caregivers of children who had type 1diabetes in the 3.7 - 11.8 years age group were chosen for the research. The duration of disease was in the 3.3-4.8 years range. The children whose caregivers had at least 50% correct math answers had better glycemic control than those who failed.
Researchers Krishnavathana Hassan, MD and Rubina A. Heptulla, MD of the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, reported in Pediatrics, "Literacy and numerical skills of caregivers significantly influence glycemic control of their children with type 1 diabetes. Assessing literacy/numeracy skills of caregivers and addressing these deficiencies may be crucial in optimizing glycemic control."
Blood sugar needs to be tracked frequently because the levels are changed by insulin, other medications, food intake, stress, illness, and exercise, and so the caregiver must have to keep track of the numbers.
"Most numbers are dynamic, meaning they change with seasons, stress, and life events, and require periodic assessments and adjustments," says Meg Bayless, a diabetes educator for the diabetes clinical research programs at the University of Iowa Health Center in Iowa City. "Using some easy daily diaries and tools allows you and your health care providers to track glucose values and address management issues raised over time."