11-22-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
According to a new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), all children should have regular cholesterol screening regardless of their medical history.
Screening between ages 9 and 11 was already recommended to parents to prevent heart disease, but pediatricians have found many children under the age of 9 could also be at risk for heart disease and diabetes. Screening at a younger age will make it possible for earlier therapeutic interventions, such as dietary changes and encouraging exercise. Although this new implemented guideline is aimed at obese children, doctors are encouraging parents to test their children regardless of their weight or health status.
“By fourth grade, between 10 and 13 percent of American children have high cholesterol (level 200 or greater),” says James Ebert, MD, lead physician of Dayton Children’s lipid clinic.
This new recommendation was presented on Nov. 4, 2011 at a meeting of the American Heart Association by the prestigious National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was also recommended that overweight children be screened by age 9 regardless of their family history and risk factors. Pediatricians waited until kids had one or more risk factors to be tested. The new recommendation was implemented because over 30% of kids with high cholesterol were missed.
High cholesterol can be caused from hereditary factors, diet, and obesity. However, there are many ways to lower a child’s cholesterol just by changing a few things in their lifestyle:
- Making meals for your children that are low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol – The amount of fat a child consumes daily should be 30 percent or less of a child’s total calories. Saturated fat should be less than 10 percent.
- Select a variety of foods so your child can get all the nutrients he or she needs – Too much of one type of food can be harmful in the long run.
- Exercise regularly - Exercising often such as biking, running, walking, and swimming, can help raise HDL levels (the "good" cholesterol) and lower your child's risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Delaying screening until the 20s or 30s misses important opportunities for early prevention of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Elbert.
Dayton Children’s wants to you to be aware of the new testing procedures that are being implemented to keep your children healthy. Implementing new healthy habits in you and or your child’s life could stop your child from having high cholesterol as an adult and give them a healthier future overall.
The lipid clinic at Dayton Children's provides treatment plans for children with lipid disorders, including high cholesterol. Find more information at the Lipid Clinic.
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