Children need cholesterol screening, too

By Tom Nordlie • Published: August 15th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Cholesterol screening might seem like something only adults need to worry about.

Actually, it’s important for children, too.

That’s because kids can inherit a genetic condition that impairs their ability to process so-called bad cholesterol, the low-density lipoprotein [LIE-po-PRO-teen] that clogs arteries.

The condition is called “familial hypercholesterolemia” [fuh-MILL-ee-ull HIGH-purr-kull-est-err-uh-LEE-mee-uh], also known as F-H.

It’s one of the most common serious genetic conditions, affecting at least one out of every five-hundred people worldwide.

Left untreated, F-H can increase the risk of premature coronary heart disease as much as one-hundred times in young men. The risk is lower in women.

To combat this problem, the National Lipid Association has issued new guidelines for cholesterol screening in children.

They appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

The guidelines say most children should have cholesterol screening between the ages of nine and eleven.

For children with a family history of F-H or premature heart disease, screening should begin at age two.

If the screening indicates high levels of low-density lipoprotein, doctors can do further testing to determine if the child has F-H.

But even if F-H is present, it’s not a death sentence. A combination of medication, proper diet and exercise can help.

Children with F-H should have their bad cholesterol levels reduced by at least fifty percent, though they may need to be reduced further in some cases.

If all of this sounds grim, it shouldn’t.

Medical science makes it possible to clear bad cholesterol from the body.

Concerned? Schedule a checkup. Your child’s pediatricians will be able to determine if your little one should be tested.