Pharmacy Times

Screening Kids for High Cholesterol

Author: Laura Enderle, Associate Editor

Cholesterol tests should be given to all children as early as age 9, according to new guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
 
All children should receive a cholesterol test before they reach puberty, according to new clinical guidelines developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
 
The recommendation to universally screen children for a problem associated with the diseases of middle age will may surprise many parents. But because the risk factors and risk behaviors that speed the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) begin in childhood, preventive care needs to begin early in life as well, according to members of an expert panel tasked with writing the guidelines. 
 
“Atherosclerosis begins in youth, and this process, from its earliest phases, is related to the presence and intensity of the known cardiovascular risk factors,” the authors wrote. In a paper on the guidelines published online Friday in the journal Pediatrics, they summarize their exhaustive review of the clinical evidence supporting such early cholesterol tests for children
 
According to the panel, research indicates that: For these reasons, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends universal screening for all children beginning at age 9. The panel also recommends health providers begin taking yearly blood pressure measurements beginning at age 3, providing anti-smoking counseling between the ages of 5 and 9, and tracking body mass index at age 2, the Associated Press reported

As for the question of whether the new screening guidelines screening are likely to stir controversy among parents, Associated Press quoted panel member Elaine Urbina, MD, of Cincinatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center: “If we screen at age 20, it may already be too late. To me, it’s not controversial at all,” she said. “We should have been doing this for years.” 

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