Pediatricians Recommend Cholesterol Screening for Kids

July 08, 2008 08:00 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
In an effort to fend off heart disease in adults, pediatricians are urging wider cholesterol screening in children and the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

30-Second Summary

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that one way to prevent heart disease in adults is to screen kids for risk factors at an early age.

In fact, the AAP has recommended that kids as young as two and no older than 10 start receiving cholesterol screening if they have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks. Those who are obese, or have a limited family history, are encouraged to do the same.

Some pediatricians are also recommending that children as young as eight begin taking cholesterol-lowering drugs to avoid heart problems later in life.

Because 30 percent of children in the United States are obese, many doctors believe a wave of heart attacks and diabetes will appear as the kids grow older.
“There is a large discussion of obesity in America because this is the first generation of children that has a lower life expectancy than their parents’ generation,” stated Dr. Daniel Levy, a pediatrician and AAP spokesman.

For some, cholesterol and obesity problems are genetic. The Baltimore Sun tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who led an active lifestyle and ate healthily, but maintained cholesterol levels nearly five times higher than those of an average peer.

His problem, which was genetic, led to double bypass surgery. Dr. Peter Kwiterovich, a blood cholesterol researcher, said it is possible that screening could have eliminated a need for bypass surgery.

The right type of cholesterol can have benefits to the body. Physicians believe HDL cholesterol in particular carries bad cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where it is eventually expelled from the body.

Doctors can check cholesterol levels with a blood test.

Headline Link: 'Heart Rate Test Urged for Kids'

Background: Childhood obesity rates

Opinion & Analysis: Thoughts on the guidelines

Related Topics: Childhood obesity; obesity gene

Reference: Obesity, heart and cholesterol resources


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