Research by OUWB professors, students helps children with diabetes at summer camp
OUWB at ADA's 79th Scientific Sessions
Representing OUWB at the ADA's 79th Scientific Sessions were (left to right) endocrinologist Lowell Schmeltz, M.D., FACE, associate professor, and medical students Sophia Chan, M2, Erica Chang, M2, Jonathan Tang, M2, and Aniela Sosnowski, M4. (Not pictured: Bernard Degnan, M.D., associate professor)

Findings from research conducted by OUWB professors and medical students is helping make it safer for kids with diabetes to attend summer camp.

The information was presented during the American Diabetes Association's (ADA's) 79th Scientific Sessions held June 7-11 in San Francisco. Nearly 15,000 leading physicians, scientists, health care professionals and industry representatives from around the world attended the event.

Representing OUWB were endocrinologists Lowell Schmeltz, M.D., FACE, associate professor, Bernard Degnan, M.D., associate professor, and medical students Jonathan Tang, M2, Sophia Chan, M2, Erica Chang, M2, and Aniela Sosnowski, M4.

Schmeltz said OUWB’s presence at the ADA Scientific Sessions is significant for several reasons.

“It’s a tribute to the partnership that OUWB has made with the ADA and Camp Midicha — not just for the OUWB students having a unique clinical experience at the camp, but an opportunity for OUWB students to experience the research process and presenting their findings at a major medical conference,” he said.

Their findings were drawn from work at Camp Midicha, the Fenton, Michigan-based ADA camp that is the largest of its kind in the U.S., hosted at YMCA Camp Copneconic, and has a longstanding partnership with OUWB.

Schmeltz said the OUWB research is being used to craft the ADA camping program’s policies that are designed to help kids with type 1 diabetes optimize their blood sugar control so they have the closest thing possible to a normal camp experience.

Schmeltz gave a presentation at the ADA Scientific Sessions entitled "Diabetes Technology Use in Schools, Camps, and Emergency Rooms” and was one of the medical leads that helped the ADA create a living document for Best Practices for Diabetes Technology at Summer Camps.

“A lot of kids with type 1 diabetes can’t go to a normal summer camp because someone has to watch their blood sugar and help them with insulin doses at every meal,” said Schmeltz, who also serves as chairman of Camp Midicha, and is a member of the ADA Youth Strategies Committee.

Over the past few years, diabetes technology has evolved at a rapid pace and the use of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems has grown tremendously.  Across the ADA Camps, approximately 75 percent of campers in the summer of 2018 were on an insulin pump at camp and 15 percent were using a CGM. 

One OUWB study presented at the conference indicated campers who used CGM had a 74 percent lower relative risk of having at least one severe hypoglycemic episode (blood glucose <50) during their week at camp, compared to controls (14 percent vs. 38 percent; OR: 0.26 (95 percent CI: 0.09, 0.73); P = 0.0012). There was no significant difference on average blood sugar or incidence of significant hyperglycemia.

In the other OUWB-presented study, use of the Medtronic 670G automated insulin delivery system demonstrated > 80 percent of blood sugars during camp were in the target range with an acceptable amount of hypoglycemia.

“These studies confirm what we always believed to be true,” said Schmeltz. “We all know that the insulin pumps work, and the technology works, but to show that this technology not only improves blood sugar control but keeps kids safer by reducing severe low blood sugars in a camp setting.”


“Enlightening experiences” for OUWB medical students

Since 2013, OUWB students have been attending Camp Midicha as part of a summer preceptorship program under the direction of Schmeltz and Degnan.  Many students continue to volunteer in future years on their own.

Sosnowski has volunteered at Camp Midicha for the past three summers, and said it’s led to many “enlightening experiences.”

“After seeing how much of an impact this camp had on me as a medical student and on these children and their families, I made it a goal of mine to create a research project that would better help me understand their experience on a scientific level and to help improve their time at camp,” she said. “We were interested in creating a study to better inform the families of our campers as well as the medical staff at camp about how to make camp a safer and more technology-friendly environment for our campers. 

Sosnowski said she was “in awe” when she learned she was selected to present at ADA’s Scientific Sessions.

“As a medical student, I was extremely nervous to present alongside physicians from all over the world about the impact of continuous glucose monitoring technology in diabetes care,” she said. “However, it was empowering to be able to share the stories of an American diabetes camp with the international diabetes community.”

Schmeltz said helping students like Sosnowki have the kind of experience they had at Scientific Sessions is “what teaching is all about.”

“It is not just the reward that I get from seeing these students succeed, but a win-win situation for the experience OUWB students get from this simple partnership and the benefit to the kids with diabetes to experience summer camp away from home,” he said.