Lucio Masthead Graphic
Press Release
April 20, 2005
Contact: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
(512) 463-0385

AUSTIN, TX--Yesterday the Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. and co-author Sen. Frank Madla, that will more comprehensively address the growing epidemic of Type 2 diabetes among school children.

Sen. Madla said, "Clearly it is important for the state, local communities and parents to understand the prevalence of childhood diabetes; we need to better inform ourselves to prepare for the serious health and financial consequences of this disease."

Senate Bill 1239 allows the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to coordinate the current Acanthosis Nigricans program to detect Type 2 diabetes administered by the University of Texas Pan-American Texas-Mexico Border Health Coordination Office, which was created in 1990. The program is currently administered in 11 of 20 Education Service Center Regions in the state, primarily in areas closer to the Border and with high Hispanic populations.

"There are an estimated 1.3 million adults in Texas with diabetes," said Sen. Lucio. "With recent reports that children born after 2000 have a one-in-three chance of developing diabetes, we must act aggressively to alert parents that their children may be at risk for developing a disease that is the leading cause of amputation, kidney failure and blindness."

Under the current program, students are first screened for Acanthosis Nigricans (AN), a marker visible on the body and a possible indicator of a person having or being at-risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Under the bill, however, a school nurse or other trained professional would first assess the body mass index (BMI) of a student, and if the BMI is elevated, then the student would be screened for AN and high blood pressure. The parents or guardians of the student will receive the information, with an explanation of the assessment and advice on seeking further medical evaluation for the child.

The BMI level at which a student is considered above-normal would be determined by the Diabetes Advisory Committee the bill also creates, and which will be operated by the Texas Diabetes Council. Members would include DSHS, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Medical Association, a representative from an institute of higher learning, the Texas Pediatric Society, two school nurses (from rural and urban areas), a school district administrator, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and a parent of a child with Type 2 diabetes.

The bill will now be considered by the full Senate, and then sent to the House of Representatives.