Researchers compare tests for pediatric prediabetes

6/16/2008

SAN FRANCISCO According to Canadian researchers, the standard test for screening prediabetes in children often fails to detect the condition. The researchers studied over 170 obese children aged from 5 to 17.

The standard diabetes test for children is the fasting blood glucose test, but it identified almost three times fewer children with diabetes than the glucose stress test, also called the oral glucose tolerance test. The glucose stress test takes longer, because blood is taken from the patient after fasting and again two hours after drinking a sugary solution. Using the fasting blood glucose test, the researchers found that only 8 percent of the children in the study met the diagnostic criteria for prediabetes. But the glucose stress test indicated that 25 percent of the children had prediabetes.

The researchers also found the fasting blood glucose test identified metabolic syndrome in only 5.2 percent of the children, while the glucose stress test detected metabolic syndrome in 12.8 percent of the children. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors (including high blood sugar) for diabetes and heart disease.

Added time, inconvenience and cost are among the reasons why the glucose stress test isn’t typically used in children.

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