Newly revised AAP guidelines (July 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend cholesterol screening for all children who are:
- Have diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- A family history of early heart disease and high cholesterol.
What is the cause of high cholesterol in children?
Cholesterol levels in children are linked to three risk factors:
- Genetically (passed on from parent to child. In most cases, kids with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated cholesterol)
What does cholesterol do?
Adults are not the only people affected by high cholesterol. Children also may have high levels of cholesterol, which can cause health problems when the child gets older.
Too much cholesterol leads to the build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries, which supply blood to the heart and other organs. Plaque can narrow the arteries and block the blood flow to the heart, causing heart problems. Cholesterol also is related to health problems, including stroke.
When to do the first screening and how often should I follow up?
- First screening is recommended after age 2, but no later than age 10.
- Children under age 2 should not be screened.
- If the fasting lipid profile is normal, a child should be screened again in three to five years.
Is there any treatment and what is it?
- Changing lifestyle and bad habits: Healthy food including low-fat dairy products for all children over two years of age
- Plenty of exercise: regular aerobic exercise, such as biking, running, walking, and swimming, can help raise HDL levels (the "good" cholesterol) and lower your child's risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Weight management should be the primary treatment for overweight kids with high lipid levels
- Medications for patients 8 years and older with an LDL concentration greater than 190 mg/dL (or 160 mg/dL with a family history of early heart disease or two additional risk factors present; or 130 mg/dL if diabetes is present)
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