Aims: To determine whether children with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) miss more school than their non-DM siblings and peers and to identify factors associated with school absenteeism in children with DM.
Methods: School absenteeism data for the 2000-01 school year were obtained for 78 children with DM, 38 non-DM siblings and 118,269 age-matched peers in Toronto, Ontario. Questionnaires and hospital records were utilized to evaluate child-, family- and diabetes-related factors associated with school absenteeism in children with DM.
Results: Children with DM missed only slightly, albeit significantly more school than both their non-DM siblings (mean +/-sd: 10.9 +/- 8.9 vs. 8.1 +/- 8.1 days, P < 0.001) and peers (median: 8.8 vs. 5.5 days, P = 0.0005). A multiple regression analysis indicated that school absenteeism in children with DM was associated with their parents' attitudes towards school attendance (P = 0.002), poorer metabolic control (P = 0.006), shorter disease duration (P = 0.006) and a lack of aggressive behaviour (P = 0.02).
Conclusions: With current management strategies, near normal school attendance is a reasonable goal for all children with DM and should be strongly encouraged by parents, educators and health care professionals.