The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children between 9 and 11 years old are screened for high blood cholesterol levels due to the growing epidemic of obesity in children.
In addition, the AAP recommends cholesterol testing for the following groups of children:
- Those whose parents or grandparents have had heart attacks or have been diagnosed with blocked arteries or disease affecting the blood vessels, such as stroke, at age 55 or earlier in men, or 65 or earlier in women
- Those whose parents or grandparents have total blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher
- Those whose family health background is not known (eg, many adopted children), or those who have characteristics associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, or obesity
For children in these categories, their first cholesterol test should be after 2 years but no later than 10 years of age.
A child may have high cholesterol for a variety of reasons such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or an underactive thyroid. If an initial test shows high cholesterol, your pediatrician will check your child’s blood again at least 2 weeks later to confirm the results. If it is still high, the doctor will also determine if your child has an underlying condition.
A recent government report indicated that there is good evidence that children with cholesterol problems become adults with high cholesterol. So it is important to monitor the cholesterol of children who may have an increased risk of elevated cholesterol.