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December 9, 2006

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Wilmington,Ohio, USA:

Could you please tell me what the normal range a child's blood sugar levels should be? My son is four. Is the range the same as for an adult, 70 mg/dl [3.9 mmol/L] to 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L]? Are their levels higher due to other hormones in their body? Although my son does not have any of the symptoms of diabetes, his blood sugars are not in that range. Do I have reason to be concerned? His levels first thing in the morning for the past two days have been 124 mg/dl [6.9 mmol/L] and 137 mg/dl [7.6 mmol/L]. Both obviously are higher than 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L]. Do these levels suggest my son could have diabetes?


Please review many similar questions about the Diagnosis and Symptoms of diabetes.

In general terms, “normal” fasting serum glucose concentrations (from a vein, not a home glucose meter), regardless of age, ranges from 60 mg/dl [3.3 mmol/L] to 100 mg/dl [5.6 mmol/L]. Values greater than 100 mg/dl [5.6 mmol/L], but less than 126 mg/dl [7.0 mmol/L] are now often classified as being “impaired fasting glucose.” A confirmed fasting serum glucose concentration (from a vein, not a home glucose meter) of more than 125 (“greater or equal to 126 mg/dl [7.0 mmol/L]”) is consistent with diabetes mellitus.

Home glucose meters are very good..but not “good enough” to ESTABLISH a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. They also are not as accurate for lower glucose readings. For practical reasons, some clinicians (including this one), “cheat” by relaying to families that, in general, non-worrisome fasting serum glucose levels can be 60 mg/dl [3.3 mmol/L] to 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L]. The ranges that you gave, 70 mg/dl [3.9 mmol/L] to 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L], may be a statistical range from your local laboratory.

Typically, serum glucose levels in the non-diabetic of less than 40 mg/dl [2.2 mmol/L] are thought to be more likely worrisome. Some studies suggest that values less than or equal to 47 mg/dl [2.6 mmol/L] may have clinical impact, so some clinicians begin to explore further for serum glucose levels less than 50 mg/dl [2.8 mmol/L].

Depending on the method used to check your son’s glucose levels, and I am assuming you are using a home glucose meter, you need to be assured that the child’s skin was very clean and very dry prior to pricking for blood. The meter should be coded (if required, depending on the type of meter) to match with the glucose test strips, assess with the test solution, etc.