Diabetes and Your Child: The 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 shows how well your child's blood sugar is controlled. The better your child's blood sugar is controlled, the less likely they will have complications from diabetes. Your child may have other tests such as fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance test, or random blood glucose test. But these tests only show blood sugar levels at that moment. They don't show how well your child's blood sugar is controlled over time.
The A1C test measures the amount of glucose that sticks to a protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is in red blood cells. The more glucose stuck to the red blood cells, the higher your child’s average blood sugar has been over time.
An A1C result is given as a percentage. Most people without diabetes have an A1C level of 5.7% or lower.
|Healthy red blood cells have some glucose stuck to them.
|When your child has high blood sugar, much more glucose sticks to the red blood cells. This is what the A1C test measures.
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. The A1C goal for children and teens is less than 7.5%. Your child will likely need an A1C test every 3 months. You will still need to check your child's blood sugar several times a day. Tell the healthcare provider if the daily blood sugar results don't match the A1C result.
Where to learn more
For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:
American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.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
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