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John Hunter Hospital School

John Hunter Hospital School

School, Family, Community

Telephone02 4985 5090


Supporting Students with Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a metabolic disease in which blood glucose levels fluctuate as a result of defective insulin secretion, insulin action or both.

Types of Diabetes

There are 2 main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • More commonly occurs in children and adolescents, however, may occur at any age.
  • Is an auto-immune disease whereby the body's immune system destroys insulin-making cells in the pancreas. Children with Type 1 diabetes have a genetic predisposition to get this type of disease. It is thought that something in the environment triggers this auto immune process.
  • Required daily insulin therapy for survival.
  • May cause paleness, sweating, shakiness, vagueness, confusion, irritability and even seizures in the child due to low-blood glucose (hypoglycaemia).
  • Carries a risk of complications such as blindness, kidney failure and cardiac problems if high glucose levels (hyperglycaemia) present at diagnosis persist.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Usually emerges in adulthood, being most common in people over 45 years of age, however it is becoming more common in children as young as 10. There has been an increase in Type 2 diagnosis in young patients in recent years.
  • Is usually associated with being overweight and inactive.
  • Can run in families.
  • Carries a risk of complications such as blindness, kidney failure and cardiac problems if high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) persist and/or increase over time.


Diabetes impacts on all aspects of a child's life. A child with diabetes must constantly monitor blood glucose levels to ensure they are not too high or too low.

The treatment of diabetes involves:

  • Monitoring of blood sugar levels.
  • Routine daily insulin therapy by injection or pump (the child may need to give an injection at lunchtime or program their insulin pump. Young children may require someone at school to assist them with this).
  • A healthy eating plan.
  • Regular exercise.


Some of the social and emotional issues surrounding Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Concern about being different from his/her peers
  • Anxiety about managing diabetes while on excursions, school camps and when playing sport – additional carbohydrates may be required either before or after sporting activity.
  • Anxiety about future health e.g. kidney failure, lower limb amputation and blindness.
  • Concern about physical activity e.g. swimming and other water sports.
  • Needing to eat during school activities while other children are not permitted to do so, can draw attention and be stressful.