For Immediate Release: Sept. 13, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health has developed an online Provider’s Toolkit to offer pediatric clinicians easy access to current best practice health screening and prevention recommendations for children and adolescents from birth to age 18.
The toolkit, located at: http://healthvermont.gov/family/toolkit, is designed to address emerging health issues through improved diagnosis and screening. For example, the toolkit is designed to increase recognition by pediatric clinicians of type 2 diabetes in children. Type 2 diabetes has accompanied the dramatic rise in childhood obesity.
“Improved access to health screening recommendations for patients is a key element of the Vermont Blueprint for Health,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “Sixty percent of physicians surveyed by the Health Department said that they would use a web-based provider toolkit as new screening recommendations emerged. Our hope is that promoting best practice clinical guidelines and recommendations online will lead to improved risk assessment and improved patient care.”
The toolkit brings to the attention of health care providers the importance of screening for pediatric health concerns such as type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes in children who are at high risk because of excess body weight and family history for diabetes.
In Vermont, 26 percent of children in grades 8 through 12 are overweight for their age and height, and the overall obesity rate in Vermont rose 77 percent from 1990 to 2002.
The importance of screening children for diabetes and pre-diabetes was not widely practiced by pediatric health care providers in Vermont as recently as 2000, because it was still considered to be predominantly an "adult-onset" disease.
"Unlike type 1 diabetes that typically presents with a sudden onset of obvious symptoms, type 2 and pre-diabetes develop more subtly over time and can
remain undetected for years,” said Dr. P.J. Zimakas, director of Pediatric Endocrinology, Vermont Childrens’ Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care. “If we screen and catch diabetes early enough, we're able to treat it more effectively and reduce the risk for devastating long-term complications.”
Because the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes, especially in adolescents, is linked to the epidemic of overweight children, health care providers and parents who learn their child has pre-diabetes can support and motivate them to prevent a progression to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
“They can accomplish lifestyle improvements that are key to a healthier future,” Dr. Zimakas said.
The Provider’s Toolkit is a project of the Vermont Department of Health and was developed in cooperation with community partners, including the Vermont chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Academy of Family Physicians.