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December 15, 2005

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Question from Madison, Florida, USA:

My 11 year old sister was diagnosed with borderline diabetes about two weeks ago and no one has explained to us exactly what the recommended glucose range is for her age group. She went to the hospital for vomiting and they did blood tests that showed her glucose to be high, 135 mg/dl [7.5 mmol/L]. They then did a fasting glucose test a few days later and her glucose was still high, 108 mg/dl [6.0 mmol/L]. We are controlling it with diet and exercise, but when she tested after dinner tonight, her sugar was 83 mg/dl [4.6 mmol/L]. This is the first day she has had a monitor. Is this too low or is it within her range?

Answer:

In general, the normal range for serum glucose (no matter the age) is between about 60 and 100 mg/dL [3.3 and 5.6 mmol/L]. Low glucose (“hypoglycemia”) symptoms (variable degrees and combinations of shakiness, change in level of alertness, sweatiness, hunger) are more likely to occur with glucose levels in the mid-40s mg/dl [2.6 mmol/L] or below.

Diabetes mellitus, by one of it’s major definitions, is diagnosed when the FASTING serum glucose (by a laboratory stick and NOT a fingerstick on the meter) is more than 125 mg/dL [6.9 mmol/L] OR if a random glucose is more than 200 mg/dL [11.1 mmol/L] but in the presence of symptoms of high glucose (increased urination, increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, for example.)

Fasting glucose levels between 100 and 125 mg/dl [5.6 and 6.9 mmol/L] are more gray and variably called “pre-diabetes” or impaired fasting glucose and others.

DS