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Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic condition that is diagnosed when your body stops producing insulin causing blood sugar levels to rise, sometimes to dangerously high levels. T1D is not preventable or curable, but it is manageable. T1D is an autoimmune disease that may be caused by genetic, environmental, or other factors. T1D is usually first diagnosed in children or young adults, but it can occur at any age with peak diagnosis being between 13 and 14 years of age.

Risk Factors

It is recommended that students displaying or possibly experiencing the risk factors and warning signs associated with type 1 diabetes be screened (tested) for the disease. In the United States, White people are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African American and Hispanic or Latino people. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). Risk factors are not clear for T1D. Known risk factors include:

  • Family history (parent, brother, or sister with T1D)
  • Age (T1D can occur at any age, but it usually develops in children, teens, or young adults)

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Type 1 diabetes symptoms can develop in just a few weeks or over a period of months and can be severe. If you or your child have any of the following symptoms, speak with your physician about the need for blood sugar testing:

  • Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night (bedwetting may occur in a potty-trained child)
  • Very thirsty
  • Lose weight without trying
  • Very hungry
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Very tired
  • Very dry skin
  • Wounds that heal slowly
  • Have more infections than normal

People who have type 1 diabetes may also display nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, or fruity smelling breath; these can be late warning signs of elevated blood sugar levels. Following a diagnosis of T1D, parents/guardians should work with the primary care provider to develop a lifestyle and medical treatment plan, which may include consultations with and examinations by specialty care providers, including an endocrinologist.

Diabetes Screening Tests

Parents/Guardians of children displaying signs/symptoms possibly related to T1D should consult with your primary care provider to determine if screening for diabetes is appropriate. Your provider may have your child take one or more of the following blood tests to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. A blood test measures the average blood sugar level over two to three months.
  • Random (non-fasting) blood sugar test. A blood sample is taken at a random time; this test must be confirmed with a fasting blood glucose test.
  • Fasting blood sugar test. A blood sample is taken after an overnight fast; a high level on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test. A test measuring the fasting blood sugar level after an overnight fast with periodic testing for the next several hours after drinking a sugary liquid.

If the primary care provider thinks your child has type-1 diabetes, blood may also be tested for autoantibodies (substances that indicate the body is attacking itself) that are often present with T1D. Your child's urine might be tested for ketones (produced when the body burns fat for energy), which may also indicate T1D.


American Diabetes Association
What is diabetes? | CDC 
Type 1 Diabetes Information - Health Services & School Nursing (CA Dept of Education)
California Code, Education Code - EDC § 49452.7

The information provided on this webpage is intended to raise awareness about T1D. Contact your child's primary care provider, the MHUSD Special Education Department, your school nurse, or school administrator if you have questions. [EC 49452.6, 49452.7; HSC 104250]