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HbA1c Testing Has Clinical Utility in Selected Populations


  • In at-risk adolescent patients what is the utility of a random HbA1c level in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus?

Clinical Bottom Lines

  1. HbA1c levels above 6.1% is a useful predictor of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  2. Testing glucose tolerance with HbA1c levels is convenient and may lead to earlier identification of type 2 diabetes mellitus in selected populations.

Summary of Key Evidence

  1. Prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in children is rising, current recommendations are to screen children >10 with obesity, family hx, acanthoisis nigricans, or genetically susceptible background.
  2. HbA1c testing correlates with long term glucose control and is a standardized laboratory test.
  3. HbA1c level shows minimal variability with time of the day and fasting vs non-fasting state.

Additional Comments

  • Elevated HbA1c is not a current criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes.
  • HA1c testing is three times as expensive as fasting glucose level.
  • The early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children has an unknown effect of disease outcome.


  1. American Diabetes Association: Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. American Academy of Pediatrics 2000; 105(3): 671-680.
  2. Aye T, Levitsky LL. Type 2 diabetes: an epidemic disease in childhood. Current opinion in Pediatrics 2003; 15(4): 411-415.
  3. Caragher TE, Dohna JC, Lomont ME. Cautionary note regarding HbA1c methods predicting the clinical status of diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2000; 23(6): 867-869.
  4. Rohlfing CL, Little RR, et. al. Use of GHb (HbA1c) in screening for undiagnosed diabetes in the U.S. population. Diabetes Care 2000; 23(2): 187-191.

CAT Author: Brendan Kelly, MD

CAT Appraisers: Kenneth Pituch, MD

Date appraised: March 24, 2004

Last updated July 3, 2004
Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
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