Is glycosylated haemoglobin associated with psychosocial stress in non-diabetic 6-year-olds?

Authors

  • Anna MH Price,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Anna MH Price, Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 39345 5900; email: anna.price@mcri.edu.au

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Talia Maayan,

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Melissa A Wake,

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    3. Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Harriet Hiscock

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    3. Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Conflict of interest: None.

Abstract

Aim

Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c), a marker of diabetic glycemic control, is associated with chronic psychosocial stress in non-diabetic adults. This study aimed to determine whether HbA1c also acts as a biomarker of psychosocial stress in healthy 6-year-olds.

Methods

Design and participants: Eligible participants were 326 children recruited from 6 socio-economically diverse areas in Melbourne, Australia, who took part in an earlier randomised trial for sleep problems at age 7 months. At 6 years, they participated in a follow-up assessment. Outcome: HbA1c collected by finger-prick. Exposures (collected simultaneously): proxy measures of child stress including: (i) child mental health; (ii) maternal mental health (depression, anxiety, stress), negative life events in the preceding year, life stresses and coping; and (iii) family socioeconomic status and financial stress. Analyses: linear regressions, adjusted for original randomisation status and clustering.

Results

Sixty percent (134/225) of children retained at 6 years provided HbA1c data, which ranged from 3.9%–5.8% (SD 0.3%). No child or family variable was associated with HbA1c. Of the maternal variables, only anxiety predicted HbA1c (adjusted difference per point increase: −0.01, 95% CI: −0.003 to 0.02, P = 0.01); this association was in the opposite direction to that hypothesised and clinically insignificant.

Conclusion

HbA1c was not associated with psychosocial stress in healthy 6-year-olds. This suggests that any link between HbA1c and psychosocial stress emerges after this age, and that HbA1c is unlikely to be a reliable biomarker for stress in early childhood or over the transition to school.

Ancillary