Goals Not Met by Diabetic Kids

Type 1 diabetes blood sugar targets not achieved by many children

(RxWiki News) The goal of treating children with type 1 diabetes is to bring blood sugar levels under control. But even with a specialist's care, it may be hard to reach target blood sugar levels.

A recent study showed that many young people with type 1 diabetes are not meeting the blood sugar levels recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

Researchers found that less than half of type 1 diabetes patients between 6 and 13 years old met their blood sugar targets. Only 21 percent of patients between 13 and 20 years old met their target levels.

According to the authors, these findings highlight the difficulty of meeting blood sugar goals among young people with type 1 diabetes.

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For their research, Jamie R. Wood, MD, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and colleagues set out to see how many young Americans with type 1 diabetes were meeting the recommended targets for HbA1c, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and lipids.

HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar levels over the past three months. An HbA1c of 5.6 percent or less is considered normal. Levels of 6.5 percent or higher are considered to be diabetic.

BMI is a measure of body fat based on a person's height and weight. A higher BMI has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and complications of diabetes.

Both blood pressure and lipid (blood fats) levels are measures of cardiovascular health. They are important in diabetes, as patients with diabetes face an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

The study by Dr. Wood and colleagues included 13,316 participants in the T1D Exchange Clinic Registry under the age of 20 who had type 1 diabetes for at least one year.

The American Diabetes Association recommends different target levels of HbA1c for different age groups. Like most adults, patients between 13 and 20 years of age should aim for an HbA1c of less than 7.5 percent. Patients between 6 and 13 years of age should aim for less than 8 percent and those younger than 6 should aim for less than 8.5 percent.

The study's results showed that HbA1c targets were met by:

  • 21 percent of participants between 13 and 20 years of age
  • 43 percent of participants between 6 and 13 years of age
  • 64 percent of participants under the age of 6

The majority of patients from all age groups met targets for blood pressure and lipid levels. About two-thirds of participants met the BMI goal of being in less than the 85th percentile.

Sarah Yandall, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Department of Endocrinology at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan and dailyRx Contributing Expert said "Achieving target blood sugar levels for diabetes is not an easy task. Although a large number of our patients can meet blood sugar and A1c targets, many are unable to meet these goals.  We provide as many resources as we can and educate our patients on how they can better manage their diabetes.  

"The main goal we have is that each individual patient and their families strive for the best that they can do.  We know what the target A1Cs are for each patient age group, and they are provided and reviewed at each clinic visit.  We make every effort to help our patients do the best that they can do, and to help them work towards the American Diabetes Association recommended target goals.  

"In addition, we encourage patients to work toward these goals and that any decrease in A1C done by achieving better blood sugar levels will help to improve health and decrease risk of complications down the road."

According to the authors, "Most children with type 1 diabetes have HbA1c values above target levels. Achieving American Diabetes Association goals remains a significant challenge for the majority of youth in the Type 1 Diabetes Exchange registry."

The study was published January 22 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association. No funding or disclosure information was available.

Review Date: 
January 23, 2013