Kids and High Cholesterol

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

It's typically adults who worry about their cholesterol levels, but not so much anymore. A new study finds about one in every three kids between the ages of nine and eleven has borderline or high cholesterol.

"Almost a third, 30 percent, had some elevation in a cholesterol marker, whether it be total cholesterol, LDL bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, or elevated triglycerides," Dr. Michael Rocco said.

Texas Children's Hospital researchers examined the medical records of nearly 13,000 children ages 9 to 11. All of them had cholesterol screenings as part of a routine physical exam.

They found boys were more likely than girls to have higher total cholesterol, higher LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Results also show girls had lower HDL, or "good" cholesterol levels.

"I think it's important to screen early because in pre-puberty and during puberty cholesterol levels actually drop. So, screening earlier may give us a better representation of where cholesterol levels are going to be as an adult," Rocco said.

Researchers say that although cardiovascular disease in children is rare, the presence of certain risk factors, like high cholesterol, can increase the chances of developing heart disease as adult. Doctors say this is not about putting children on cholesterol-lowering medications.

"It's about identifying children that could benefit from activity guidelines, good education in terms of food choices, and weight reduction when appropriate," Rocco said.

The findings are being presented at the "American College of Cardiology's" annual scientific session.

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