Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) should be used to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes, according to new recommendations from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Under the new recommendations, HbA1c levels of 5.7% to 6.4% would indicate prediabetes and 6.5% or higher would indicate diabetes, according to a report in Diabetes Care (2010;33[Suppl 1]:s1-s99). Unlike fasting plasma glucose and oral glucose tolerance testing, the HbA1c test does not require overnight fasting.

The ADA hopes that adding the option of this simple blood test to the diagnostic arsenal for diabetes will encourage more people to be screened, ultimately reducing the rate of kidney disease and other complications of diabetes.