Cholesterol Levels in Children

The children should be tested for high cholesterol as the cases of high cholesterol levels in children and kids are increasing.

In recent years obesity in children is increasing dramatically, consequently a significant number of children have elevated cholesterol levels. In most cases this remains undetected. Some experts are of the view that high childhood cholesterol is a major underreported public health problem. It is believed that the problems associated by high cholesterol can start in childhood.

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Screening Children for High Cholesterol

The question arises, should the children be screened for cholesterol levels routinely? The National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines recommends cholesterol screening for children

1. whose parents or grandparents developed heart disease or had high cholesterol levels at age 55 or younger. About 90% of children with high cholesterol level have a parent who also has high cholesterol.

2. have severe obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, renal disease and low thyroid activity.

Dr. Ashok Seth, Chairman Escort Heart Institute says, "Blockages start as early as 3-4 years of age and major blockages can occur by 15 years of age. Regular health screenings including blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar tests during childhood once in every two 2 years and once every year in case of grown ups. In case detected with any irregularities, then a regular check is important on the advice of the doctor.

According to the American Heart Association, the ranges of total cholesterol for children 2 years to 19 years old are:

CategoryTotal cholesterol
LDL Cholesterol
AcceptableLess than 170Less than 110Child should be screened every 5 years.
Borderline170-199110 - 129Doctor may test fasting cholesterol.
High200 or greater130 or greaterDoctor may test HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.

It is not understood what high cholesterol levels indicate for a child. The best thing the parents can do for their children is that they teach them about good eating habits and the importance of regular physical activity.

Many children eat diets that are moderate to high in fat content. Many mothers (specially Indian) give their kids a lot of saturated fats (ghee, butter) for their growth and development. The fat more than the recommended value is harmful. The recommendation for total dietary fat intake is 30 percent of calories or less, out of which only 10 percent should come from saturated fats.

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