- by Dr Gowher Yusuf
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- Jun 08 2017
Cholesterol screening in children
An expert panel is recommending that all children, regardless of family history, undergo universal screening for elevated cholesterol levels. The panel recommends that children undergo lipid screening for non-fasting non–HDL-cholesterol levels or a fasting lipid panel between the ages of 9 and 11 years followed by another full lipid screening test between 18 and 21 years of age.
The guidelines, from the Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents, appointed by the National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), also recommend measuring fasting glucose levels to test for diabetes in children 10 years of age (or at the onset of puberty) who are overweight with other risk factors, including a family history, for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Not Going to Have a Heart Attack Tomorrow "If we find a patient has elevated cholesterol levels, we know their risk is not very high, and it is not going to be high enough to warrant treatment, but the screening could be enough to spur changes in behavior," said Hsu. "If they have elevated levels, we can then begin to look for why this is the case, and we can look for ways to change their eating habits, change what they eat, and change how often they exercise."
Hsu said that it was "highly unlikely" that screening would lead to more children being treated with cholesterol-lowering medications, probably less than 1%. She said the greatest benefit would be to children with major lipid disorders who might have been missed with other screening tools. She said the 2008 AAP document on lipid screening and cardiovascular health provides guidance on treatment with pharmacologic agents. Written also by Daniels and Dr Frank Greer (University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison), along with the Committee on Nutrition, the document says that treatment should be started if LDL-cholesterol levels are higher than 190 mg/dL . The cutoff point for therapy is 160 mg/dL for children with other risk factors, with targets as low as 130 mg/dL or even 110 mg/dL when there is a strong family history of cardiovascular disease, especially with other risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other higher-risk situations.
An Age When They'll Listen to You In her practice, Hsu said she sees firsthand the epidemic of childhood obesity, with many young children having pre-metabolic syndrome. With screening of children aged 9 to 11 years old, she believes they are at a vulnerable age that might be more responsive to recommendations from their family doctor, whereas older children, particularly teenagers, don't like being told what to eat or how much to exercise. She said cholesterol screening can signal potential long-term complications and can serve as an increased wake-up call for families.
"We're not telling the kids or families that they're going to have a heart or stroke tomorrow but instead saying that we want them to live until they're 85 years old," said Hsu. "We want to see them live longer than their grandmother or grandfather."
Note: Although at present In India, we do not have any universal cholesterol screening programs for children, we ststill suggest that you should consult your pediatrician if your child has any of the above mentioned risk factors.ill suggest that you should consult your pediatrician if your child has any of the above mentioned risk factors.
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