A1c is a test that shows the average level
of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. People with
diabetes need to have this test done regularly to see
whether their blood sugar levels have been staying within a target
range. This test is also used to diagnose diabetes.
Blood for an A1c test can be collected at home or
at your doctor's office. Home testing may not be an option for everyone. Check with your doctor.
A1c test results show your average blood sugar
level over time. The result is reported as a percentage. Your goal is to keep
your hemoglobin A1c level as close to the normal level as possible. Studies
suggest that the lower the A1c level, the lower the incidence of
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends keeping the hemoglobin A1c
less than 7%.
The result of
your A1c test can also be used to estimate your average blood sugar
level. This is called your estimated average glucose, or eAG. Your eAG and A1c
show the same thing in two different ways. They both help you know about your
average blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months.
The table below
shows A1c with estimated average glucose.
Estimated average glucose (mg/dL)
A1c levels for children and teens are different. For
children younger than 6 years old, the ADA recommends an A1c level less than
8.5%. In children 6 to 12 years old, the recommended level is less than 8%. And
in teens, the recommended level is less than 7.5%.2
Results of A1c tests that are read at different labs
vary, but standardization among labs is improving.
CitationsNathan DM, et al. (2008). Translating the A1c assay
into estimated average glucose values. Diabetes Care,
31(8): 1473–1478.American Diabetes Association (2012). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2012. Diabetes Care, 35(Suppl 1): S11–S63.
March 7, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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