The Evolution of Hemoglobin A1c Targets for Youth With Type 1 Diabetes: Rationale and Supporting Evidence.

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The American Diabetes Association 2020 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes (Standards of Care) recommends a hemoglobin A1c (A1C) of <7% (53 mmol/mol) for many children with type 1 diabetes (T1D), with an emphasis on target personalization. A higher A1C target of <7.5% may be more suitable for youth who cannot articulate symptoms of hypoglycemia or have hypoglycemia unawareness and for those who do not have access to analog insulins or advanced diabetes technologies or who cannot monitor blood glucose regularly. Even less stringent A1C targets (e.g., <8%) may be warranted for children with a history of severe hypoglycemia, severe morbidities, or short life expectancy. During the "honeymoon" period and in situations where lower mean glycemia is achievable without excessive hypoglycemia or reduced quality of life, an A1C <6.5% may be safe and effective. Here, we provide a historical perspective of A1C targets in pediatrics and highlight evidence demonstrating detrimental effects of hyperglycemia in children and adolescents, including increased likelihood of brain structure and neurocognitive abnormalities, microvascular and macrovascular complications, long-term effects, and increased mortality. We also review data supporting a decrease over time in overall severe hypoglycemia risk for youth with T1D, partly associated with the use of newer insulins and devices, and weakened association between lower A1C and severe hypoglycemia risk. We present common barriers to achieving glycemic targets in pediatric diabetes and discuss some strategies to address them. We aim to raise awareness within the community on Standards of Care updates that impact this crucial goal in pediatric diabetes management.


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