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Diabetes and Your Child: The Hemoglobin A1C Test

What is the A1C test?

The A1C is a simple blood test. It measures your child’s average blood sugar level over a period of 2 to 3 months. This is helpful because it tells how well your child's blood sugar is controlled. The better your child's blood sugar is controlled, the less likely he or she will develop complications of diabetes. Other tests your child may have include fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance test, or random blood glucose test. But these tests only show blood sugar levels at a specific time. They don't give much information about control.

A1C works by measuring the amount of glucose that sticks to a protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells. The more glucose stuck to the red blood cells, the higher your child’s average blood sugar has been.

An A1C result is given as a percentage. Most people without diabetes have an A1C level of 5.7% or lower.

Your child’s target A1C number

Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you what your child’s target A1C number should be. It will depend on your child's age, overall health, and other factors. Your child will likely need an A1C test about once every 3 months. In general, the A1C goal for children and teens is less than 7.5%.

Resources

For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:

  • American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org

  • Children with Diabetes www.childrenwithdiabetes.org

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www.jdrf.org

  • American Association of Diabetes Educators www.aadenet.org

  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists www.aace.com

  • Endocrine Society www.endocrine.org/topics/diabetes

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
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