Hemoglobin levels differ in African-American and Caucasian type 1 diabetics

According to researchers at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Children's Hospital of New Orleans, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) responds differently to blood glucose in Caucasian and African-American children.

Lead researcher James M. Hempe and his colleagues examined 276 kids with type 1 diabetes over a period of six years. These patients - who were 12.5 years of age on average - all had the condition for nearly five years. The researchers measured the levels of HbA1c and mean blood glucose in these individuals.

Their analysis revealed significant differences in the hemoglobin glycation index (HGI) of African-American children compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Approximately 58 percent of black patients had a high HGI compared to only 24 percent of white participants.

"Besides the risk of over-treating with insulin and provoking hypoglycemia, the data also suggest that there is a need for alternate therapies to reduce diabetes complications other than insulin and other glucose lowering agents," said researcher Stuart A. Chalew.

He added that HbA1c can be deceptive in African-Americans who have type 1 diabetes because it can mislead doctors into believing that levels of blood glucose are higher than they really are.