Diabetes in the Somali community

SunniType 1 diabetes affects kids of all ethnicities, but appears to be more prevalent in Somali children. Muna Sunni, M.B.B.C.h., U pediatrics faculty member, is teaming up with Jennifer Kyllo, M.D., from Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to create educational materials for Somali youth with diabetes, thanks to Masonic support.

KylloIn one example, because counting carbohydrates is a necessary skill for diabetes management, Sunni and Kyllo are creating a picture-based dietary resource to help Somali families estimate the carbohydrates in commonly-consumed Somali foods. By using images, this tool bypasses any literacy or linguistic barriers that might exist and serves as a relevant and practical resource.

Although the short-term goal for these tools is to educate Somalis in Minnesota about diabetes, this work could eventually benefit Somalis nationally and even internationally.

Currently, Sunni and Kyllo are gathering input from local Somali families to inform the development of their resources. Ultimately, their program will include:

  • Collaborations with parents of Somali children with diabetes to identify barriers that affect care and design methods that bridge linguistic and cultural gaps in diabetes education.
  • Educational materials in Somali, including videos, to benefit affected families regardless of their literacy status.
  • Group discussions that enable affected families to share experiences and advice with one another.

For local media coverage of this study, click here.


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