Convenient blood test not as effective for diagnosing diabetes in children

Feb 23, 2011 by Shantell M. Kirkendoll

Doctors are increasingly using a convenient blood glucose test for diagnosing diabetes and pre-diabetes, but a study by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital shows it's not the best way to diagnose diabetes in children.

The hemoglobin A1c test has become the preferred way to diagnose among the millions of Americans who have diabetes but show no symptoms. The simple test measures longer-term -- without requiring patients to fast overnight.

But U-M researchers say more study is needed before doctors can safely rely on using hemoglobin A1c for children.

"We found that hemoglobin A1c is not as reliable a test for identifying children with diabetes and pre-diabetes compared with adults," says study lead author Joyce M. Lee, M.D.,M.P.H., a pediatric endocrinologist at Mott Children's Hospital. "Using this test in children may lead to missed cases."

The study was published online ahead of print in and provides new insight on effectively diagnosing diabetes in children.

In 2010, the American Diabetes Association released guidelines recommending HbA1c be exclusively used for diagnosing diabetes in children and adults.

For the study, Mott researchers evaluated the testing results of 1,156 obese and overweight , ages 12-18. The ADA recommends screening only obese and overweight kids because their weight puts them at higher risk for developing diabetes.

According to the guidelines, individuals without symptoms would be classified as having diabetes if HbA1c values reach 6.5 percent and as having pre-diabetes if HbA1c values reached between 6 and 6.4 percent on two separate tests.

The U-M authors suggest that the cut-off point may need to be lower for kids.

Until more definitive studies are available, it's premature to use HbA1c for children, authors say. Others tests such as the fasting plasma glucose and 2-hour measurements have long been relied on by doctors to diagnose diabetes among adults and children, but, as HbA1c emerged, they were expected to be phased out of use.

Mott pediatricians say they still play an important role in diabetes care.

"Based on the study findings, a fasting blood glucose test should still be used for diagnosing diabetes in children," says Lee, a member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics.

Explore further: Dallas hospital confirms first Ebola case in US

More information: "Diagnosis of diabetes using Hemogloblin A1c: Should recommendations in adults be extrapolated to adolescents?," Journal of Pediatrics.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Africa's uneven health care becomes easy prey for Ebola

9 hours ago

Threatened by the possible spread of an Ebola epidemic which respects no borders, Africa is divided between a handful of countries equipped to withstand an outbreak and many more which would be devastated, experts say.

Ebola case stokes concerns for Liberians in Texas

10 hours ago

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S. has been confirmed in a man who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas, sending chills through the area's West African community whose leaders urged caution ...

Is Australia prepared for Ebola?

13 hours ago

Australia needs to be proactive about potential disease outbreaks like Ebola and establish a national centre for disease control.

User comments : 0