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Diabetes in children & teens

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes.

Types of diabetes

Type 1

  • The pancreas loses its ability to produce any or enough insulin.
  • Approximately 1/10 people with diabetes have type 1.
  • Most children with diabetes have type 1.
  • In Canada and the United States, about 1/350 school-aged children have diabetes (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto).
  • Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2 diabetes.
  • The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it cannot be prevented.
  • Children do not outgrow type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

  • The pancreas still makes insulin, but not enough to keep blood sugar levels normal.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is more common in adults.
  • Type 2 diabetes is now being diagnosed in a growing numbers of children and teens due to increased obesity rates and sedentary lifestyles (Canadian Diabetes Association).
  • Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through changes to diet and lifestyle, as well as oral medications (pills).
  • Some children with type 2 diabetes may need insulin injections.
  • Any student needing insulin will need to take the same precautions at school as someone with type 1 diabetes.

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How can school staff support children and youth with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • If there is a student with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in your classroom, it is important to learn the basics about blood sugar and know what to do when it is too low or too high.
  • An individual care plan which outlines the roles and responsibilities of school personal, parents, and the child with diabetes should be in place so that everyone knows what steps to take in case of a medical emergency. The Halton Catholic District School Board (external PDF) and the Halton District School Board (external PDF) diabetes protocol can assist school staff in managing and supporting students diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes so that students can learn in an environment that is safe and supportive.
  • Regular communication between home and school is very important in managing a student’s type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and will help foster a positive relationship between school staff and parents/caregivers.

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What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

  • being overweight/obese;
  • physical inactivity;
  • a family history of diabetes;
  • certain ethnicities;
  • maternal diabetes; and/or
  • insulin resistance.

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How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

As with all chronic diseases, lifestyle change is key to the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes in children and youth.

Encourage children and youth with type 2 diabetes to:

  • increase their level of physical activity; and
  • eat healthy by following Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

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How can I get more information?

Public Health Nurses are available to consult with teachers and school staff to discuss the resources that are available and how they can support them in their school. Contact Halton Region.

Resources for teachers:

Resources for parents

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