Dr. Walt's Health Blog

Group says cholesterol screenings should begin during childhood

All children should be screened for high cholesterol when they’re 9 to 11 years old according to new guidelines from the National Lipid Association (NLA).

In addition, HealthDay reported that the NLA “also urges that children with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease or elevated cholesterol be screened for cholesterol with a simple blood test as early as age 2.”

However the former guideline is much less controversial than the latter.

According to a report in CardioBrief, the NLA’s “recommendations are misguided in at least one key point and, more significantly, the guidelines, and the NLA itself, are deeply tarnished by the NLA’s extensive connections with industry.”

I believe the NLA recommendation for universal screening of children between 9 and 11 years old is reasonable, because the alternative, just targeting the at risk kids for screening (i.e., kids with a family history of high cholesterol) will miss about about half of the kids with high cholesterol inherited from one or both parents (familial hypercholesterolemia).

However, the recommendation to test kids starting at age two is more problematic. As one expert told CardioBrief, “I strongly oppose testing children at age two with a family history because … if you test them, what are you going to do differently?”

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Pediatric Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Initiative is scheduled to release it’s guidelines in the fall. So, stay tuned …

The guidelines were published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

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