Cholesterol Should Be Tested In Children, Panel Says
Cholesterol should be screened for routinely in children ages 9 to 11 to preventatively treat potential heart disease, according to new health guidelines.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health released the new guidelines, which are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, in order to uncover risk factors for developing heart disease later on. Previously, children were only screened for high cholesterol if they had a family history of heart disease.
According to Dr. Daphne Hsu of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, it can be challenging to get parents and their kids to alter their lifestyles.
"If you find high cholesterol, it will give you extra ammunition to talk to the family and talk to the children about the need for changes in diet and exercise," she said, as quoted by Reuters.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of U.S. adults and 15 percent of children are overweight or obese. The panel is confident that early detection of risk factors will be beneficial in terms of preventing later heart disease.
Reuters quotes Dr. Stephen Daniels, chair of the panel, as saying, "the more we learn about heart disease and stroke in adults, the more we know that the process begins in childhood and progresses over time… we as pediatricians really need to get kids started on the right track and keep them in as low a risk category as possible.”
The guidelines emphasize the importance of breast-feeding, a diet low in saturated fat, protection from tobacco smoke and exercise.
The research was published in the journal Pediatrics.