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HbA1c – What is it?

HbA1c – What is it?  What is it for?  Is it important?  What should it be?

The HbA1c is also known as A1c or glycosylated haemoglobin.  It is a measure of the degree to which glucose has become attached to a protein in red blood cells called haemoglobin.  It gives you an idea of the amount of glucose circulating in your blood over 2 to 3 months.  Your A1c result is given to you as a percentage.

The A1c test can tell you how well your diabetes management is working.  Any decrease in your A1c level is good for your long term health, but you should keep aiming below 7% to give yourself the best chance of staying healthy and complication free.

An A1c of less than 7% is generally recognised as the recommended level to achieve.  BUT for children we raise the level slightly to hopefully decrease the risk of hypoglycaemia.  If you try too hard to get an A1c less than 7%, you could cause too many hypoglycaemic episodes. (hypos)  Depending on the age of the child, an A1c between 7 and 9% may be acceptable.  If your A1c is elevated, it’s because the overall amount of glucose in your blood is higher than normal.  If this is the case, you have more chance of developing diabetes related health problems with your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, blood vessels and feet.

The A1c test doesn’t replace the blood glucose levels test you must do every day.  It adds to it.  You need both tests to really know how well you’re controlling your blood glucose.

The A1c test is attended in the Paediatric clinic with a finger prick test or it can be done via a blood test at a pathology lab.

Do you know what your child’s A1c level is?  Make a note of it at your next clinic and monitor their progress.

Keeping their BGL’s close to normal NOW helps reduce their chances of having health problems LATER.

Many thanks to The Fraser Coast Diabetes Service Paediatric
Newsletter for this article.
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