Study: Hemoglobin A1C may not effectively diagnose kids with diabetes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A convenient blood-glucose test commonly used to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes may not be the best way to diagnose children, according to a new study.

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital evaluated hemoglobin A1c test results of 1,156 obese and overweight adolescents, ages 12 to 18 years, and discovered that exclusively using the test for diagnosing diabetes in children and adults could lead to missed cases, based on current American Diabetes Association guidelines. According to current ADA guidelines, individuals without symptoms would be classified as having diabetes if HbA1c values reach 6.5% and as having prediabetes if HbA1c values reached between 6% and 6.4% on two separate tests. The U-M researchers suggested that the cut-off point may need to be lower for kids.

"We found that hemoglobin A1c is not as reliable a test for identifying children with diabetes and prediabetes compared with adults," said Joyce Lee, lead study author and pediatric endocrinologist at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "Using this test in children may lead to missed cases."

Until more definitive studies are available, it's premature to use HbA1c for children, authors concluded.

The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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