Back to Diabetes at School Information for Teachers and Child-Care Providers

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Teachers and child-care providers are likely to have a child with type 1 diabetes in their care at some point in their career. This page provides basic information about diabetes, offer suggestions for how to care for children with diabetes, and refers you to other sources of information.

What is type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes, previously called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is required by the body to use glucose, the simple sugar into which foods are broken down by our digestive system. Without insulin, the body starves to death. It's important to note that everyone is insulin-dependent. People without diabetes make insulin in their pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin.

Implications for School

Diabetes is not contagious. And though there is no cure, diabetes can be managed with insulin injections, blood sugar monitoring, proper diet and exercise.

High and Low Blood Sugars

Children with diabetes face two problems that teachers need to understand: hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. You should learn the symptoms and how to treat each.

Implications for School

Some teachers think that kids with diabetes sometimes pretend to feel low or high to get out of the classroom, or to get out of an activity that they do not like. This is very unlikely. Most kids with diabetes don't want to be different, and they don't want their diabetes to cause them to be treated differently. If you think this is a problem, speak with the child's parents, but do not deny the child's request for water or a blood sugar test.

How is Diabetes Treated?

Children with type 1 diabetes are treated with insulin taken via injections or using an insulin pump, blood sugar monitoring, a carefully managed diet and exercise. Frequent blood glucose tests help determine the correct amount of insulin to take and help identify low and high blood sugars. Children must be allowed to test their blood sugar at school. Testing in the classroom is preferred by many parents, since it minimizes time away from the classroom. Other parents prefer testing in a clinic. Children should be permitted to check their blood sugar whenever and wherever they want.

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