Screening for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes With Proposed A1C-Based Diagnostic Criteria

  1. Lawrence S. Phillips, MD1,2
  1. 1Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, Georgia;
  2. 2Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipids, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia;
  3. 3Nutrition and Health Sciences Program, Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  1. Corresponding author: Darin E. Olson, deolson{at}emory.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE An International Expert Committee (IEC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) proposed diagnostic criteria for diabetes and pre-diabetes based on A1C levels. We hypothesized that screening for diabetes and pre-diabetes with A1C measurements would differ from using oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We compared pre-diabetes, dysglycemia (diabetes or pre-diabetes), and diabetes identified by the proposed criteria (A1C ≥6.5% for diabetes and 6.0–6.4% [IEC] or 5.7–6.4% [ADA] for high risk/pre-diabetes) with standard OGTT diagnoses in three datasets. Non-Hispanic white or black adults without known diabetes who had A1C and 75-g OGTT measurements were included from the prospective Screening for Impaired Glucose Tolerance study (n = 1,581), and from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III (n = 2014), and NHANES 2005–2006 (n = 1,111).

RESULTS OGTTs revealed pre-diabetes in 35.8% and diabetes in 5.2% of combined study subjects. A1C provided receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve areas for diabetes of 0.79–0.83, but ROC curve areas were ≤0.70 for dysglycemia or pre-diabetes. The proposed criteria missed 70% of individuals with diabetes, 71–84% with dysglycemia, and 82–94% with pre-diabetes. Compared with the IEC criteria, the ADA criteria for pre-diabetes resulted in fewer false-negative and more false-positive result. There were also racial differences, with false-positive results being more common in black subjects and false-negative results being more common in white subjects. With use of NHANES 2005–2006 data, ∼5.9 million non-Hispanic U.S. adults with unrecognized diabetes and 43–52 million with pre-diabetes would be missed by screening with A1C.

CONCLUSIONS The proposed A1C diagnostic criteria are insensitive and racially discrepant for screening, missing most Americans with undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Footnotes

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  • Received March 4, 2010.
  • Accepted July 11, 2010.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ for details.

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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 33 no. 10 2184-2189
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