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ADA Revises Blood Sugar Level Target for Type 1 Diabetics

Update Date: Jun 17, 2014 09:56 AM EDT

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has released a new statement recommending a new blood sugar (glucose) target level for children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The experts are now advising type 1 diabetics under the age of 19 to maintain their A1C blood sugar level, which is a test used to measure a patient's average blood sugar levels over the span of a few months, at less than 7.5 percent.

"The new targets should help redouble efforts at improving glucose control in the patient group that is currently most challenging -- adolescents," commented Dr. Robert Rapaport, director of the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai, New York City, reported by WebMD. Dr. Rapaport was not involved with drafting the new guidelines.

Prior to this new statement, experts believed that A1C levels as high as 8.5 percent was safe for children under six-years-old. For the age groups of 6 to 12 and 13 to 19, experts had considered eight percent and 7.5 percent as safe A1C levels, respectively. However, new evidence suggested that high blood sugar levels, known as hyperglycemia, can be extremely dangerous for children with type 1 diabetes. Experts used to believe that complications caused from this condition affected adult diabetics only. Hyperglycemia can cause serious health complications, such as heart and kidney disease.

"The evidence shows that there is a greater risk of harm from prolonged hyperglycemia that would occur if children maintained an A1C of 8.5 percent over time," co-lead author of the statement, Dr. Jane Chiang, the ADA's senior vice president for medical and community affairs, said. "This is not to say we are no longer concerned about hypoglycemia, but we now have better tools to monitor for hypoglycemia."

Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels dip dangerously low. Experts that were not involved with writing the statement added that management and care for type 1 diabetes should be personalized. Parents with diabetic children should consult with their doctors to find the best treatment plan for their children.

"Considering the risk of hypoglycemia in the young children, the management should be personalized," said Dr. Siham Accacha, director of the pediatric diabetes program at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. "More than any other condition, treating children with diabetes requires special consideration."

The new guidelines were released at the ADA's meeting in San Francisco, CA.

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