Using Hemoglobin A1c to Diagnose Diabetes

In July, 2009, an expert committee composed partially of representatives from the American Diabetes Association proposed that hemoglobin A1c be used as a diagnostic test for diabetes in non-pregnant adults and children. 

The expert committee proposed that diabetes is present when hemoglobin A1c is 6.5% or greater.  The test should be repeated for confirmation unless the individual has clear symptoms of diabetes.

The committee also recommended that the term “prediabetes” be phased out.  They indicated that a person with hemoglobin A1c of at least 6% but less that 6.5% is at risk (high risk?) of developing diabetes, yet they don’t want to give that condition a name (such as prediabetes). 

In December, 2009, the American Diabetes Association established a hemoglobin A1c criterion for the diagnosis of diabetes: 6.5% or higher.  Diagnosis of prediabetes involves hemoglobin A1c between 5.7 and 6.4%.  These numbers don’t apply to pregnant women. 

Previously established  blood sugar criteria can also be used to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes.

This step is a major change in the diagnosis of diabetes.   

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  International Expert Committee.  International Expert Committee report on the role of the A1c assay in the diagnosis of diabetesDiabetes Care, 32 (2009): 1-8.


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4 responses to “Using Hemoglobin A1c to Diagnose Diabetes

  1. With how much a pain fasting is (you mean I can’t have cream and sugar in my morning coffee?), I’m suprised they didn’t adopt it sooner.

  2. Some physicians had already started using it for diagnosis years ago. For legal reasons, it’s nice to have “authoritative expert panels” backing you up.


  3. charlene

    The photo on this article is disgusting…makes me want to cry….I’m a newly diagnosed diabetic and I certainly don’t look like this!!!!!

  4. Sorry, Charlene . . . that response was not my intent by any means.

    I get all of my pictures from Microsoft Clip Organizer. I’ve only found two photos of overweight people in that database. At least 85% of type 2 diabetics are overweight. I’ve used the other one too much.

    Many type 2s are beautiful people of all sizes. We’re all made in God’s image and carry a divine spark.

    One of these days I’ll look for additional royalty-free picture databases.