Expanded Cholesterol Testing Urged for Kids

New medical guidelines call for all children ages 9 to 11 to be tested for cholesterol.

The recommendation expands the previous guidelines established in 1992, which endorsed screening children only in families with a history of high cholesterol or early heart disease.

As The Washington Post reports, an expert panel of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute made the new recommendation based on mounting evidence that the approach taken until now could leave some children at risk.

Studies have shown that the “targeted approach” misses “some children with high cholesterol who would benefit from diet and exercise,” said Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, a University of Colorado pediatric cardiologist who headed the expert panel. The panel’s report said that a small number of children also might be advised to take anti-cholesterol drugs known as statins.

As Time reports, recent research has shown that the process of atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries — begins in childhood. On the other hand, Daniels said, people who reach the age of 50 while managing to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol low and avoid becoming overweight have only a minimal chance of being diagnosed with heart disease down the road.

The report from the institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, was endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was published in the academy’s journal, Pediatrics.


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