Definitive diabetes indicator deceptively high in African-American children

May 04, 2010

Researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans and Children's Hospital of New Orleans have found that there is a major difference in the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) response to blood glucose between African-American and Caucasian children with diabetes. HbA1c is the main test used to monitor diabetes and guide treatment decisions. African-American children test significantly higher than Caucasians who have similar average blood glucose levels. The research may explain why African Americans are at increased risk of diabetes complications. The study is published in the May 2010 issue of the journal, Diabetes Care.

The study has important implications for clinical practice. "The HbA1c can be deceptive in African American children with diabetes, misleading their doctors into believing that glucose levels are higher than they really are, " notes Stuart A. Chalew, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Head of the Division of Endocrinology in the Department of Pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine. "If doctors don't take both HbA1c and self-monitored blood sugar levels into account, they are likely to unintentionally provoke increased episodes of life-threatening hypoglycemia in African-American patients."

The research team, which also included James M. Hempe, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and Jodi L. Kamps, PhD, Clinical Assistant of Pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, followed 276 children at Children's Hospital of New Orleans with over a six-year period. The average age of participants was 12.5 years with an average duration of diabetes of nearly 5 years. The researchers obtained HbA1c levels and mean blood glucose levels - the average of self-monitored blood glucose measurements downloaded from strip-based glucose meters for periods of at least 30 days. By analyzing a hemoglobin glycation index (HGI) which assesses biological variation in A1c after accounting for the effect of mean blood glucose, the team found that there were significant differences in HGI groups by race but not by gender. About 58% of the African-American children were in the high HGI group compared to only about 24% of the Caucasian participants.

"Besides the risk of over-treating with insulin and provoking , the data also suggest that there is a need for alternate therapies to reduce diabetes complications other than insulin and other glucose lowering agents," concludes Dr. Chalew.

According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 24 million people, or about 8% of the population of the United States, have diabetes, including about one in every 400-600 and adolescents. It is the seventh leading cause of death and is the leading cause of kidney failure. is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, nervous system damage, and non-traumatic lower-limb amputations.

Explore further: Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

Provided by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

World 'losing the battle' to contain Ebola: MSF

3 minutes ago

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola and called for a global biological disaster response to get aid and personnel to west Africa.

Mutating Ebola viruses not as scary as evolving ones

33 minutes ago

My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about "mutating" Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us "The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts ...

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans

1 hour ago

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. In a new study, researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts ...

Ebola kills 31 people in DR Congo: WHO

3 hours ago

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 31 people and the epidemic remains contained in a remote northwestern region, UN the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

5 hours ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

5 hours ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

User comments : 0