Group aims to screen fifth-graders for diabetes

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

February 12, 2014

PRESTONSBURG — Coming on the heels of the Big Sandy Diabetes Partnership’s declaration last year that the high rate diabetes in Eastern Kentucky is “a crisis of epidemic proportions,” the Floyd County Diabetes Coalition is moving forward with a plan to identify students who do not know they either have or are at risk for the disease.

The coalition hopes to give every fifth-grade student in Floyd County an A1C screening, which identifies a patient’s average blood sugar level over the preceding three months.

The coalition hopes to use the data obtained from the study to qualify for grant funding to prevent and treat the disease on the local level, said Thursa Sloan, director of the Floyd County Health Department, which sponsors the coalition.

The test requires a prick of the finger, so students must obtain parental permission before being screened.

Prestonsburg Elementary, which will be the first school tested, has already sent permission forms home with students, but so far only 20 of 115 students have returned them. Organizers believe snow days may have played a role in the low return rate so far.

Students do have some incentive to participate. At Prestonsburg, the classroom with the most students taking the test will win a pizza party. In addition, each child who is screened will be entered in a drawing for an iPad. The health department has already purchased one iPad for each school.