Question: Why do we ask diabetics to achieve a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7 percent?
Answer: For many years, we really didn't know whether it was helpful or not to have a target hemoglobin A1c. In fact, we've only had the ability to measure a hemoglobin A1c since about 1980. It tells us what the blood sugar average has been like for the past three months. Studies came out in the 1990s, looking at people who had had diabetes for some years and were interested in following complications, which have shown that if the hemoglobin A1c is consistently less than seven, the risk of long-term complications from diabetes approach zero. That is, no different than if the child had never had diabetes. So that's how we came to the idea that the best place to keep the hemoglobin A1c is less than 7 percent.
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