Seasonal Variation in Hemoglobin A1c: Is It the Same in Both Hemispheres?

Posted on October 11, 2010


There are several reports from locations in the northern hemisphere of seasonal variation in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with higher values noted in the cooler months. The variation has been attributed to holiday seasons, temperature differences, and changes in diet. This article describes the seasonal variation in both hemispheres and in a country on the equator with minimal temperature variation.


In both northern and southern hemispheres, the HbA1c was higher in cooler months and lower in the warmer months. In Singapore, where there is minimal temperature variation, there is also minimal variation in HbA1c values over the year. The difference in HbA1c over a year appears to be related to the difference in temperature.


Hemoglobin A1c is higher in cooler months and lower in the warmer months in both hemispheres. In a country with minimal monthly temperature variation, there is only minimal variation in HbA1c values through the year. In all locations, the mean and median HbA1c declined over the study period, possibly due to better glycemic control of patients with diabetes or an increase in use of HbA1c as a screening test for diabetes or a combination of both.

Data from our and other studies show that temperature differences play a role in HbA1c values. However, the difference in HbA1c is not as obvious as in other studies. It is important for both laboratorians and clinicians to be aware of the influence of temperature on the HbA1c value, especially in the context of meeting treatment target goals for HbA1c.

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