The hemoglobin A1C ("A-one-C") test is a blood test used in the care of people who have diabetes. The hemoglobin A1C test is a way of looking at your child's average blood sugar control over a period of 2 or 3 months.
Sugar absorbed from the digestive system circulates in the bloodstream. When the blood sugar is high, the sugar attaches to the hemoglobin protein in red blood cells, forming hemoglobin A1C.
Red blood cells live 90 to 120 days. This means that once sugar has combined with the hemoglobin in red blood cells, the hemoglobin A1C stays in the blood for 90 to 120 days. This means the amount of A1C in your child's blood reflects how high the blood sugar has been over the past 3 months and how often it has been high.
A1C is an excellent way to check how well blood sugar is being controlled over a 3-month period.
A1C measurements are important because:
No preparation is necessary. One of the advantages of this test is that your child does not need to fast before having the test.
Your child's healthcare provider will poke a finger with a lancet and fill a small tube with the blood. Sometimes blood is taken from your child's arm through a needle instead of using a finger poke.
At some pharmacies you may be able to buy a device that allows you to test A1C at home. You may find that the results of the home test are not the same as results of tests done at your provider's office.
Ask your child's healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.
Hemoglobin A1C percentages in children should be and usually are somewhat higher than for adults. For childhood diabetics the A1C goal is:
The following chart shows examples of how the A1C is related to average blood sugar level:
A1C Estimated Average Blood Glucose (eAG) --------------------------------------------- 6% 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) 7% 154 mg/dL (8.6 mmol/L) 8% 183 mg/dL (10.2 mmol/L) 9% 212 mg/dL (11.8 mmol/L) 10% 240 mg/dL (13.4 mmol/L) ---------------------------------------------
Remember that, even though your child has this test every few months, you need to keep testing your child’s blood sugar as often as your provider recommends.
Previously the hemoglobin A1C was reported only as the percentage. Now it will also be available from most labs as the eAG, or estimated average glucose. If you know your child’s A1C, you can use the chart above to know what your child’s average blood glucose has been. Many healthcare providers will soon be reporting results as both the A1C percentage and the actual average blood sugar.
If your child has been diagnosed as diabetic and his or her test is not normal, the healthcare provider will talk to you about how to lower your child's blood sugar through diet, exercise, or medicine. Keeping blood sugar levels and A1C levels in or near normal ranges will help your child avoid the complications of diabetes.
If your child’s test results are not normal, ask your healthcare provider: