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Change of HbA1c reporting to the new SI units

Maria E Craig, Kim C Donaghue, Fergus J Cameron and Martin Silink
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (9): 514-515. || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11018
Published online: 7 November 2011

To the Editor: The position statement by Jones and colleagues regarding the change of HbA1c reporting to the new Système International (SI) units — which has been recommended by the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association, the Australian Diabetes Society and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia — provides a comprehensive summary of the rationale behind the proposed change and suggests a 2-year period of dual reporting.1

However, Jones et al did not specify targets for children and adolescents, and we believe that it is important to do so. The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Australian children and adolescents is among the highest in the world2 and, in New South Wales, type 2 diabetes represents at least 10% of cases of new-onset diabetes in adolescents.3 National evidence-based clinical care guidelines for type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and adults4 include age-specific targets for HbA1c, while recognising that such targets are predominantly consensus based.

HbA1c targets for young people with type 1 diabetes are higher, with a level of < 7.5% recommended for children and adolescents in the Australian guidelines4 and in those produced by the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD).5 Jones et al note that “Achievement of HbA1c targets must be balanced against risk of severe hypoglycaemia, especially among older people”;1 this is also the case for young people. For children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes, the ISPAD guidelines recommend an HbA1c target of < 7%.5

The move to SI units represents a major change in the established, widely recognised outcome measure of glycaemia; during the transition period, the specific needs of young people with diabetes must not be forgotten.

  • Maria E Craig
  • Kim C Donaghue
  • Fergus J Cameron
  • Martin Silink

  • Australian Type 1 Diabetes Guidelines Expert Advisory Group (Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group and Australian Diabetes Society), Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.

Correspondence: m.craig@unsw.edu.au

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Jones GRD, Barker G, Goodall I, et al. Change of HbA1c reporting to the new SI units [position statement]. Med J Aust 2011; 195: 45-46. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Catanzariti L, Faulks K, Moon L, et al. Australia’s national trends in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in 0–14-year-olds, 2000–2006. Diabet Med 2009; 26: 596-601.
  • 3. Craig ME, Femia G, Broyda V, et al. Type 2 diabetes in Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and adolescents in New South Wales. Med J Aust 2007; 186: 497-499. <MJA full text>
  • 4. Craig ME, Twigg SM, Donaghue KC, et al; Australian Type 1 Diabetes Guidelines Expert Advisory Group. National evidence-based clinical care guidelines for type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and adults. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2011.
  • 5. Rewers M, Pihoker C, Donaghue K, et al. Assessment and monitoring of glycemic control in children and adolescents with diabetes. Pediatr Diabetes 2009; 10 Suppl 12: 71-81.

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