Exclusive: New diabetes rules 'ignore ethnic differences'

New rules on diabetes diagnosis will ignore ethnic differences in HbA1c levels, Healthcare Republic has learned.

New WHO guidance will not include ethnic-specific thresholds (Photograph: Tracy Dominey/SPL)
New WHO guidance will not include ethnic-specific thresholds (Photograph: Tracy Dominey/SPL)

The WHO is revising global advice on diabetes diagnosis, which includes an update on diabetes classification and the use of glucose intolerance, HbA1c and risk scores in diagnosing, screening and predicting diabetes.  Its current guidelines are used by Diabetes UK and NICE.

But a WHO spokesman said it would ‘not include ethnic-specific thresholds for any of the measures'.

Professor Eric Kilpatrick, chemical pathology consultant at Hull Royal Infirmary, has raised concerns about basing diabetes diagnosis on HbA1c.

He said that research showed HbA1c levels are raised in Afro-Caribbean, Asian and elderly people.

‘What we do not yet know is how appropriate it will be to identify a higher proportion of elderly and ethnic minority individuals if a single diagnostic HbA1c threshold for diabetes comes into use,' he said.

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