Blood Sugar Control for Children
It can be difficult to know what blood sugar goals to set for children. You want them to stay healthy and avoid long-term diabetes-related health problems. But you also don’t want them to experience low blood sugar. That’s why parents and caregivers need to work with the child’s diabetes care team to set individual goals. The following chart shows how the A1C goals recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for children differ from the goals recommended for adults.
Summary of Blood Sugar Goals
Blood Sugar Goals for Children (birth to age 19 years)
|Before meals||90-130 mg/dL|
|A1C||Less than 7.5%|
|Before meal (FPG)||80-130 mg/dL|
|After meal (PPG)||Less than 180 mg/dL|
|A1C||Less than 7.0%|
Why is an A1C less than 7.5% recommended for children and teens? Isn’t less than 7.0% (the goal for adults) better? It is…if it can be safely reached. But this goal has to be weighed against the risk of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. This is especially important when it comes to children under the age of 6. Children that young may not be able to recognize or communicate when they are suffering from hypoglycemia, so the risk of serious low blood sugar events can be greater for them, especially when trying to reach lower A1C targets.
At the other end of childhood, the teenage years can be a difficult time for blood sugar control too. A natural substance in teens’ bodies called growth hormone may be partly responsible when their blood sugar numbers are not where they should be. Growth hormone helps bones and muscles grow and develop properly during puberty. But it can also work against the effects of insulin. It’s important to help teens realize that when their blood sugar control isn’t where it should be, it may not be their fault.
Due to the increased amount of hormones a teen’s body is releasing as a natural part of growth and development, his or her insulin dose may also need to be increased. Make sure to talk to your child’s diabetes care team about how his or her changing body may require a change in insulin dose.