According to Karen Seligman, MD, a pediatric cardiologist with a specialty in preventive cardiology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, the most recent guidelines set by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) propose screening for all children. Dr. Seligman explains that with childhood cholesterol on the rise, the decision represents a change from the previous recommendation for targeted screening of kids with a predisposing family history or who were obese or had certain other medical conditions. “The NHLBI panel recommends universal lipid screening — specifically, a single screen for children ages 9 to 11 and again between 17 and 21.”
What should I do if my child’s cholesterol is too high?
Dr. Seligman says the threshold for putting a child on cholesterol medications (called statin drugs) is very high, with the vast majority of children considered for statins having a hereditary predisposition toward extremely high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. If your child has such levels, which pose a risk for developing early cardiovascular disease in adulthood, the first course of action should be to modify diet and get more exercise. “If you go through these efforts and the LDL-cholesterol level does not come down enough, the recommendation is to start statins for those ages 10 and above.”
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