Children with inherited familial hypercholesterolemia may benefit from taking pravastatin. Familial hypercholesterolemia is the result of a mutation in a gene that normally helps control low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. The Finnish study assessed the safety and effectiveness of pravastatin for 2 years in 30 participants (19 girls, 11 boys) aged 4 to 18 years with the condition. The participants were put on a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, supplemented with plant stanol or sterol esters, which prevent absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. Of the participants, 17% had lipid deposits in their arteries at the study's onset, and 27% had deposits at 12 months.
The findings, reported recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that participants who followed the low-fat diet experienced an 11% reduction in total cholesterol and a 13% decrease in LDL levels. Also, treatment with pravastatin (10-20 mg daily) steadily lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. After 24 months, total cholesterol levels fell by 26% and LDL dropped by 32%.