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Letters Diagnosis of diabetes

Haemoglobin A1c: ethnic differences apply to the UK

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 31 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5648
  1. Rousseau Gama, chemical pathologist1,
  2. Taruna Likhari, specialist registrar in chemical pathology1
  1. 1Clinical Chemistry, New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton WV10 0QP
  1. rousseau.gama{at}

    Ethnic differences in haemoglobin A1c may be relevant in the United Kingdom since diabetes is more common in South Asians than white people.1 2

    We found that among UK residents in Wolverhampton, South Asians have higher haemoglobin A1c values than white people whether glucose intolerance is impaired or not.3 4 But they had lower (impaired glucose tolerance) or similar (normal glucose tolerance) fasting glucose concentrations and similar postprandial glucose concentrations during a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test. The South Asians were also younger, although increasing age is associated with higher haemoglobin A1c concentration.5

    As ethnic differences in haemoglobin A1c are independent of glycaemia,3 4 haemoglobin A1c may be limited in diagnosing diabetes across the general population in the UK.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5648


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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