July 7th, 2008
05:09 PM ET

Does your 8-year-old need cholesterol drugs?

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical Managing Editor

When my sister was about 15, she went on a diet that called for eating a lot of eggs.  I distinctly remember her coming home from the doctor and telling me she had the cholesterol level of a 50-year-old and had been told to eat a more balanced diet.

Things have changed since then.   When I was in school (back in the Dark Ages), there were maybe a couple of fat kids in my class.  Chubby kids are much more the norm nowadays.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 17 percent of our nation’s children are either overweight or obese.

Seeing children with adult health problems is much more likely than in it was 20 years ago.  Today, new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics seek to bring “a new urgency given the current epidemic of childhood obesity” because children are now at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease – conditions adults used to get more regularly in their 50s.

This new AAP report says children 2 and older should get their cholesterol tested if they have a family history of heart disease or cholesterol problems (too much “bad” cholesterol and too little “good” cholesterol).

Children without a family history, but have other risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, are diabetic or smoke, should also be screened.  For more details on the report, go here.

What caught my eye is that that the AAP is suggesting patients as young as age 8 could be given cholesterol-lowering drugs.   This may seems shocking, but to be fair, the AAP is talking about children with LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels at 190 or higher or over 160 if they have a family history of heart disease.  The goal is to get the bad cholesterol under 160.  Adults are supposed to keep their entire cholesterol levels under 200.

Dr. Nicolas Stettler, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia helped develop these new AAP guidelines.  He says studies have shown that statins are safe for children.  He also says, although the number of children genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol is still relatively small, it’s not rare.  Stettler points out that not every child with the genetic makeup that leads to high cholesterol is obese.  But if cholesterol screening shows a child has high levels of cholesterol and six months of lifestyle and diet changes can bring those numbers down, adding a statin is recommended.  “It’s not a simple decision and a lifetime commitment.”

Dr. Jackie Gotlieb, a spokesperson for “Kids Health First” – an alliance of 183 primary care pediatricians in 34 independent pediatric in Metro Atlanta called the new guidelines “very reasonable recommendations.”  

“These are recommendation pediatricians can live with.   Although side effects such as elevated liver enzymes and muscle problems can happen in children as well as adults, this is also something doctors can easily keep an eye on.”   

Has your child been screened for high cholesterol?  How would you feel if your child needs to take a cholesterol-lowering drug?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Ayaz Samadani MD

    I am concerned with new recommendations to use statins for high cholesterol in children. Before such announcements it is necessary to give people the knowledge why cholesterol is high on the first place. How about diet control and exercise. In today’s society of pill gulping and quick fixes it is foolish to recommend more meds at an early age, give me the long-term study and results.

    July 7, 2008 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jennifer

    This is just sick, sick sick!
    When are people going to wake up to the fact that indulging their children's every whim is nothing short of child abuse!?! The percentage of children who are overweight or obese due to medical conditions is very small, especially compared to the total number of children who fall into the overweight or obese categories.
    Parents, wise up and pay attention! It would do you a world of good to get active with your children, not to mention what it gives them, which is not only better health, but so much more.

    July 7, 2008 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Linda

    I believe that children should be checked and followed for the lipid levels but I strongly disagree with medication before all efforts have been exhausted regarding diet changes. The american processed foods are killing our people and adding medication is NOT the answer. Diet education and simply not purchasing food with the hydrogenated fats, high saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup is where we should start.

    July 7, 2008 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lauren

    Are you kidding me?? Drugging an 8 year old like he's 85?? Are my eyes decieving me? Where has common sense gone? The solution to lowering cholesterol isn't to put more strange things in the kid's mouth, it's to put more of the GOOD stuff, like greens, and chicken breast, in their bellies . Meaning, to cook REAL FOOD for the kid!! Geez Louise!! (The ONLY exception would be for familial/congenital high cholesterol...which is actually rather rare.)

    July 7, 2008 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Danielle

    When I was 8 my cholesterol was 232, but I wasn't over weight, the doctor actually told me I needed to gain weight, my blood pressure also has never been high, and in my teen years has been low enough to cause me to faint. If it had the chance back then I probably would have taken drugs to help, just because even with being a very active child on a low cholesterol diet, it was never enough, it never dropped past 215 Not to mention the stress of being a skinny kid on a diet, while trying to avoid cholesterol but gain weight.

    With my situation it was pretty almost entirely genetic, that's probably not the norm for most kids, but I definitely think it could have made those years easier.

    July 7, 2008 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Rachel

    I just had my children's cholesterol tested because of the history of high cholesterol, heart disease, and heart attacks in their father's family. My 11 year old son has a cholesterol level of 278 and my 9 year old daughter's level is 185. My son is 120 lbs and about 5' tall.. My daughter, on the other hand, is a bean pole at 67 lbs and 4' 7". My pediatrician has recommended that I take them to a heart specialist. I am wondering if it is necessary to find a pediatric heart specialist?

    I am concerned about putting them on medication. The doctor said that my daughter is in the borderline area, and my son is quite high. Would you recommend medication for my daughter? or just for children in the high zone? Should I try diet and excercise before I go to a specialist?

    Thank you for your help.

    July 7, 2008 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jamie Kelly

    I have struggled with hereditary hyperlipidemia since I found out at the age of 4 (total cholesterol ~404). I was fortunately tested at an early age since my father had his first heart attack at age 28. Back then, testing that young was very rare, especially when the child wasn't obese. (I actually became a pharmacist because I wanted to educate as many people as possible about hyperlipidemia).

    I was put through regimens such as rigorous exercise, dietary changes, garlic supplements, even drug therapies that were available around that time (bile acid sequestrants). It was very difficult as a child to be put through such drastic measures. I had to drink Questran that tasted absolutely aweful and to this day I can't eat applesause because it reminds me of the taste. I would go to birthday parties and the parents of the kids wouldn't allow me to have cake since they knew I had high cholesterol. As a parent you may seem this as petty, but as a child, it was devastating. We did all that we could try and I made minimal changes in my cholesterol levels.

    I didn't start statins until I was 16 years old. These were the only medications that really impacted my cholesterol levels. Now, 14 years later, I am still taking them as part of my complete cholesterol lowering treatment along with Zetia. My cholesterol levels are near normal levels with using a combination of drug therapy, exercise, omega-3s, dietary restrictions, and fiber. I have currently no signs of atherosclerosis even though I waited until I was 16 to start aggressively treating my hyperlipidemia.

    I am now faced with making the same decisions for my 3 year old son who was diagnosed at 2 years old (total cholesterol ~350). It has been and will always be a struggle to determine what is the best therapy for him. While new research is on the horizon, long-term studies are still yet to be completed. As a pharmacist, I know the limits in conducting these types of studies, yet as a mother, I am frustrated with the lack thereof.

    By applying my history with these medications, I have determined that at this point of time, I am holding off starting medications with my son. However, we definitely have made dietary changes that I hope will not only impact his cholesterol now, but will set the stage for him to make healthy choices down the road. This is a struggle in its own since he actually falls in the 3% for weight for his age. We try to have him gain weight with healthy fats as best we can. We as parents can't be there everyday our child makes food choices. But if we can educate them at an early age and set good eating habits, our children will have the knowledge to make healthy decisions on their own. But I also make sure that he is allowed to splurge on treats every once in awhile. I don't want him to go through the humor that I got when I wasn't allowed certain things at parties and such.

    I hope that research continues to pour in on the safety and efficacy of these medications in the pediatric population. I look forward to the day where cholesterol screening is a standard of practice in pediatrics and our knowledge in this area continues to grow.

    July 7, 2008 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Helen Begola

    It is a very sad day in a child's life when parents feel obligated to administer drugs to their children for high cholesterol without trying natural remedies first. For many generations, this was never an issue and children grew up healthy without drugs. Exercise, a sensible diet and proper sleep will do the trick, but parents of obese children continue to neglect the obvious rules.

    Of course, it is impossible to monitor every little thing that is put into their mouths. However, the best examples are taught at home. We are their principal role models and are responsible for most of their habits, good and bad.

    So next time you think of medicating your child, remember how it was years ago when that was unheard of. Make it a point to create a health-conscious environment and please, please, don't take the easy way out.

    July 8, 2008 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Peter Good

    Dr Gupta,

    What no one mentions is that the very low-density cholesterol we are so afraid of is what the body uses to make ALL our steroid hormones—not only testosterone and estrogen from the testes and ovaries, but all our adrenal steroids as well. Granted the sex steroids are low during most of childhood, but what happens when the children get older? To limit these hormones as children are growing up is unconscionable. What are these researchers thinking?

    July 8, 2008 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Melissa

    The decision to give statins to a child should be on a case by case basis. Regarding Jamie Kelly's case, the extremely high cholesterol level she had as a child wasn't because she was obese, it was hereditary and without the drugs she more than likely would've died.

    In my case, at the age of 30 I was diagnosed with slighly elevated cholesterol levels (225). I'm not obese and at the time I was already exercising 3 times a week so it was assumed that it's hereditary since my blood pressure was excellent. My doctor did not want to put me on drugs at such a young age and told me to decrease the amount of red meat, cheese and eggs in my diet and increase exercise to a minimum of 5 days a week. I try to do my best so each year my level goes up and down and sometimes my good cholesterol is higher than the bad but so far no drugs.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sonja Galovics

    Are these doctors with no brains? Where did they go to school?
    Cholesterol is very, very important for the brain. Children need fat in their diet to develop the brain. Will we have a "dumb and dumber" society to look forward to? How could anyone do this to inocent chilren? This cholesterol thing is just getting way out of hand. STOP THE INSANITY!!!

    July 8, 2008 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Nora

    Medical staff don't really want to put the children on the cholesterol medication. They're trying to make the best of a situation that they and the families are concerned about. All those who have left comments are apparently concerned too. It is information like that written by Jamie Kelly on 7/7/2008 that gives insight to others dealing with the problem by having experienced it herself. Nutritional information has been available to some through the years, but it's more available to a larger population lately. There are still some areas where there will be discussion with proper nutrition and the use of the cholesterol medication for both children and adults. It takes time and connecting with information to improve things.

    July 8, 2008 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. kitty

    Are there any studies that show that starting an 8 year old with no evidence of heart desease on statins will reduce heart attacks later? How many 8 year old do you need to treat to prevent one heart attack? How many of the same 8 year olds will suffer from side effects in the meantime? Is there any evidence that benefits of treating such young kids will indeed outweight the risks?

    Are there any studies that show that this measure would have no adverse effect on puberty, on child-bearing ability on growth? How long term were really the studies that supposedly showed that "statins are safe for kids"?

    Are there any studies that show that taking statins for 40 years has no adverse effects?

    What about pregnancy? It is one thing when a 50-year old takes statins; you can be sure none of them will get pregnant. But a teenager? You can be pretty sure some of them will, if not during teen years than later. Statins haven't been shown safe in pregnancy.

    Incidentally, after ENHANCE a lot of doctors even question if cholesterol is what causes heart attacks or if it is an issue of correlation. Do statin work because they lower cholesterol or because they reduce inflammation? If there are no inflammation yet, would the treatment even be beneficial?

    July 8, 2008 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ed

    What a buch of bollocks! Now FDA & Big Pharma wants to drug the you ngchildren with this drug, which by the way is one of the biggest fraud in modern medicine in adults. It is all about the bottom line $$$.
    It is never about the health and well being of the people.
    How about start educating people, instead of medicating people.
    FDA suck!

    July 8, 2008 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Hamid

    This is what happens when we are always looking for an easy way out. In most cases LDL's can be brought down with a good diet and excercise.
    I brought down my LDL from 223 down to 134 in a matter of 2 months with a healthy diet and 2-3 days of speed walking in a week.
    Mayo clinic site is very helpful.

    July 8, 2008 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Bruce

    It seems like it's getting worse and worse and big pharmaceutical companies are pushing harder to get more revenue.
    Can someone explain to me why the cholesterol is so high in U.S and not a big issue in Europe and other countries?

    I lived over 21 years in Europe and never heard about cholesterol at the age of 40.

    Why don't we try to educate people to eat healthier and restrict the food companies to provide healthier food?

    July 8, 2008 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Mathew

    Children do not need drugs for cholesterol. If everyone would follow a healthy diet (which includes exercise), a lot of the health problems that we have as a nation would be eradicated. I say this from experience. I had my blood pressure and cholesterol checked at an employer sponsored health fair 6 weeks ago. The nurses told me that I was at high risk for a heart attack or stroke. I immediately changed my eating habits and have lost 15 lbs as of this morning. In fact, I am snacking on almond butter, celery, and carrot sticks as I am writing this. My life is completely different now. If I can do it, anyone can.

    July 8, 2008 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jennifer M.

    In most cases these children are probably overindulging on quicky carbs and high sugar snacks. Why don't the parents feed their children more protein, vegetables and fruit and see if that works before teaching a young child you can solve problems in your life simply by taking a drug?

    July 8, 2008 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. G

    I think this is wrong! Who will benefit from this? Maybe we have to start treating the causes, not just the effects, and the main cause is probably the American food, with high fructose corn syrup in everything and ultrasaturated fats.

    July 8, 2008 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. James

    Absolutely not! The idea of applying statin to children this age is untested and potentially dangerous. The outcomes research on statin use in adult is relatively new and does not consider long term side effects. Several statins have been shown to have a negative impact on neurological development and liver function.

    When should statins EVER be considered over weight loss and exercise in children? In my opinion, never. To extrapolate patient outcomes data from older adults to children is irresponsible at best.

    July 8, 2008 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Melinda Moore

    If a child has mysteriously high cholesterol, yes it should be treated. I'm frankly surprised it hasn't been before now. What actually concerns me much more is the business of giving low fat milk to one year olds. I find it strange that doctors would rather say "Give low fat milk to your kids" instead of, "Don't take your kids to fast food restaurants every night." I haven't even followed the previous recommendation of giving kids over two low fat milk because I firmly believe that with a balanced diet regular milk is just fine. And my kids are slim and trim because they eat well and they play a lot outside. Of course, now I feel obligated to get their cholesterol checked because apparently, you just never know.

    July 9, 2008 at 00:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. J-Dog

    While the idea of giving a statin to an 8 year old may seem extreme to those not familiar with the dangers of high cholesterol, you must take into consideration the specific patient that Dr. Nicolas Stettler is speaking of...

    Familial hypercholesterolemia is a condition passed down through families in which a person has high levels of "bad" cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, or LDL) beginning at birth. The condition can cause heart attacks at an early age..

    These are the children that Dr. Stettler is focusing on. It's a condition in which diet and exercise alone would never be enough to control and in which some sort of medication (preferably a statin) is required, in SMALL DOSES. Dr. Stettler also points out that not every child with the genetic makeup that leads to high cholesterol is obese.

    High cholesterol is a disease just like any other and should be treated just like any other. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans. It accounts for more deaths than cancer, car accidents, Alzheimer's disease, and HIV/AIDS combined!!

    While I whole-heartly agree that first line treatment should always involve lifestyle change whether young or old without question, statins have been shown to decrease the number of high cholesterol related heart attacks by 45%. So if we can use them to help our high risk children as well.. why deny them the miraculous benefits of todays medicine?

    July 9, 2008 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Brian

    It's unbelievable how the medical community thinks THIS is the best shot at diminishing heart disease. What happened to accountability? Here's a simple way to help: Eat Food, Not FOOD PRODUCTS and exercise. It's not that difficult. If parents truly care about their kids health, they'll take the time to cook them healthy meals, play with them at the park and educate them on staying healthy through diet and exercise.

    There are 2 things certain about any Drug: There is an intended effect and an unintended effect. Do you really want to take that chance with your 8 year olds life?

    July 9, 2008 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Beth

      We just found out today that my 8 year old grandson has cholesterol of 380
      he is very active, rides his bike all day, plays sports, is very much NOT over weight.
      his dad died a little over ayear ago at ayoug age

      July 16, 2010 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
  24. Lisa

    Why not first stop feeding children the processed and chemical filled food that causes the cholesterol problem in the first place? Drug companies are like pushers, just get them hooked on something and make them believe they need it. Real food... not colorants, chemicals, preservatives, and flavor enhancers... that will change cholesterol in society. Drugs will only cause other problems to bring about more drugs.

    July 9, 2008 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Melissa

    Following up on an earlier post, I just got my annual physical today. My doctor commented that everything was good however I won't receive the results for my cholesterol until next Monday. Cross my fingers that it won't be bad!

    Regarding some other posts, I agree that America does over medicate however when it comes to cholesterol, sometimes altering diet and exercise is not enough when it's in your genetic makeup. I did an experiment and I exercised everyday for 6 months straight and quit eating all fast food yet my cholesterol was still a bit high. Luckily the good outweighed the bad. At some point I may end up on drugs as I get older but I sure am fighting it as much as I can.

    July 9, 2008 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. James Haddad

    The bottom line here is dollars. That is all the corporations want. So now let's start bilking the children out of money since they got every cent they could from the adults.
    When will the government step in and put an end to this pharmaceutical fraud leveled at our children?

    July 9, 2008 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. kitty

    @Melissa and J Dog

    Do you understand the difference between absolute risk and relative risk? What about NNT or Number Needed To Treat i.e. how many people one needs to treat to prevent one heart attack? Reduction of risk by 45% may sound huge, but the question is 45% of what? If one's risk of heart attack within next 10 or 20 years is 100%, than 45% risk reduction is huge. But if one's risk of heart attack is under 1%, than you have to look at your 45% risk reduction under the microscope. In fact, in this case, the risk of serious side effects from drugs may be significantly higher. Relative risk reduction number is totally meaningless without a context.

    A simple example. If you never go into an ocean or sea at all you reduce your risk of being eaten by a shark by 100%. Huge, right? But then you consider what your probability of being eaten by a shark is, the risk reduction will not be that impressive.

    In terms of LDL and heart attack risk: If one risk of having a heart attack within next 10 years, for example 10% which is high and is highly improbable in an 8 year old, than reducing risk by 45% means reducing risk from 10% to 5.5%. This is high, but it still means that out of 100 people at this high risk that you treat for 10 years, 5 will benefit, 95 will not i.e. 95 people out of 100 will take a prescription drug with potentially serious side effects without any benefit to them while 5 will benefit. But 10% is a very high risk. If the absolute risk is under 1% – much more likely in an even obese 8 year old with high cholesterol, than the absolute risk reduction is 0.45%. Reduction of risk from 1% to .55% doesn't sound as impressive as 45% reduction, but it is a whole lot more meaningful. It also means that if 1000 people with this absolute risk are treated for 10 years, 995 will not benefit at all and only 5 will. 995 people out of 1000 will be taking a drug with potentially serious side effects.

    "High cholesterol is a disease just like any other and should be treated just like any other. "
    High cholesterol is not a desease, it is a risk factor. It is actually one of many risk factors. The biggest risk factor is age. Even with high cholesterol, the 10- or even 20- or 30- year risk of heart attack of a child is likely to be very small. There is VERY LITTLE evidence of statins benefit for PRIMARY PREVENTION even in adults. Show some evidence in children!

    "In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans"
    At what age? We are all mortal, last time I checked, so we all have to die from something. Cardiovascular desease is certainly not a number one killer of children is it?

    There is no safety data for statins use over very long periods like 30 or 40 years. There is no long-term safety data in kids. How can anybody be sure that given these drugs to kids will actually help more kids then it will hurt?

    July 9, 2008 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. C. Anne

    I was prescribed three separate statin prescriptions when my cholesterol was 215, presumably because I have another serious co-occurring disease. Unfortunately, I developed severe side effects from the statins, including hip and knee pain, as well as severe leg cramping, which, I am told, is a potentially life-threatening side effect. Many efforts to to work with one doctor, to come up with a diet or other alternative, was not successful because she didn't want to look outside the box. She was trained to dispense meds, therefore, that was her answer to EVERY problem.
    Using meds for children should be for the miniscule minority of kids that have genetic problems. Otherwise, exercise, diet, and paying attention to the child's lifestyle need to come first. Wake up, people: drug companies will make lots of money off of this. And with our medical insurance systems geared to the financially efficient pill-popping instead of taking the time to address the source of the problem, you'll need to be as educated as you can get.

    July 9, 2008 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Melissa

    @ Kitty that is why I said it must be done on a case by case basis. High cholesterol is not a disease but it leads to cardivascular disease and a host of other problems if left untreated.. Unless you've walked in my shoes or someone like Jamie Kelly, you cannot fully understand to judge. I have obese friends who have excellent cholesterol levels yet I don't even though I exercise a minimum of 3 times a week and eat right. We all will die one day but I will try my best to not go down having a whole host of problems because of high cholesterol.

    July 10, 2008 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Melissa

    The verdict is in – my overall cholesterol is at it's highest since my doctor started testing me 6 years ago – it's 271. Luckily my good cholesterol is 239 but it still means I have to make drastic changes to my diet – which means no more ice cream – hello frozen yogurt – no more pancakes – hello whole grain waffles – no more cream dishes i.e. cream soups and alfredo sauces – hello clear soups and tomato sauce – no more eggs – hello fake egg substitute. My exercise regimen will now HAVE to be a minimum of 5 days a week. Hopefully this will bring my cholesterol down or else I may be placed on those dreaded pills.

    July 11, 2008 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. kitty

    Melissa, there is currently a lot of debate among doctors – after ENHANCE trial – whether it is cholesterol that is really to blame or whether it is usual correlation vs causation confusion – cholesterol correlates with heart desease but does it really cause it? In ENHANCE trial, the group that took Zetia+statin had greater cholesterol reduction than statin alone, yet this greater reduction failed to translate into heart benefits. Why? A lot of evidence for cholesterol reduction – heart desease risk reduction comes from statins, but a lot of doctors are not sure if statins work because they reduce cholesterol or because they reduce inflammation. If it is the latter, than there may be no benefit to statins unless there is inflammation. For example, people at very high risk of heart desease but whose cholesterol is low still benefit from statins.

    Statins have been shown to be very effective in reducing heart attack risk in middle aged men with heart desease. There is very little evidence of benefit in other groups e.g. for primary prevention in women Sure they reduce cholesterol, but the bottom line is whether this always translates into heart attack risk reduction. Otherwise you are just treating the lab result. And there is very little for primary prevention except for males at very high risk. HRT also reduces cholesterol. Yet it didn't translate into heart benefits.

    As to Jamie Kelly, the plural of anecdotes isn't data. Nobody knows if statins would've made a difference. There is ZERO evidence that treating 8-year olds with statins would reduce their risk of having a heart attack at 30. There is also insufficient evidence of safety. How could you give a powerful drug to kid on an uncertain evidence of future benefit and possible risk of harm? Not to mention that the child would have to stay on statins for many years. There is no evidence that this would be safe for such a long term. Cholesterol is needed for puberty, for growth.

    And what about pregnancy? Statins hasn't been shown to be safe in pregnant women. Do you think a child would never get pregnant?

    July 12, 2008 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Melissa

    @ Kitty in Jamie Kelly's case it did make a difference. How can you disregard her case as merely an anecdote because she wasn't part of some scientific experiment to be compared with others? She LIVED through this and has the numbers to show for it. No we don't know whether or not she would've had a heart attack or not without the statin but better to be safe than sorry when it did reduce her cholesterol level. As for pregnancy – well she was able to have a son with the same problem she has so yes apparently it is possible to get pregnant even after taking statins. Like I said – walk in our shoes before you judge.

    July 15, 2008 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. brian

    There is a simple alternative to statins...it's called a ball. Give it to the kids and tell them to hit, kick it, chase it and play with it for hours a day. THen, watch the weight and cholesterol drop!

    July 15, 2008 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. kitty

    Melissa, any single case is an anecdote.A person took a drug, a person lived. How do you she wouldn't have lived anyway? Someone else may take a drug and still die. Someone else may not take a drug and have heart attack anyway. This is why there are control trials. I had chicken pox at the age of 32, then I developed premature ovarian failure. Did my chicken pox caused my ovaries to stop working? Maybe. Maybe not. there is no evidence either way, my single case doesn't prove a thing.No single case does. We all know, for example, that smokng increases risk of lung cancer by 1000%. But not all smokers get cancer and some non-smokers do. Only looking at a large number of people can you make any conclusions not by looking at individual cases.

    There is no evidence even in adult women that statins prevent deaths. Look at the real studies. Not in a single study of statins there was a reduction of mortality among women. In one study more women died among those taking statins than those taking placebo. Sure the numbers failed to reach statistical significance, but wouldn't you expect to see fewer deaths? Cochrane review – an authority for unbiased medical information – failed to find any evidence that statins benefit women. And you are talking about children!

    Nobody knows if statins work because they reduce cholesterol or because they make plaque less unstable and less likely to break off. If it is the latter, than it isn't at all clear that statins would help to someone who doesn't have a heart desease yet.

    Also risk of side effects is just that – a risk. It doesn't mean everyone will experience it. So one person was able to have a baby which didn't have abnormalities. She is one person. Even if there is an extremely high risk of birth defects – and statins are classified by the FDA as class X drugs i.e. drugs that can potentially cause fetal abnormalities. Even high risk like 50%, means that half of the kids will be fine. So saying that Jamie Kelly was able to have a baby that was not stillborn, that had no vision or hearing loss or multiple organ system failure or any malformations – all potential side effects of insufficient cholesterol that is needed for normal child development – doesn't mean another mother would be so lucky. Unplanned pregnancies happen all the time.

    You are saying that it is better to be safe then sorry. But statins aren't 100% safe. Just because Jamie Kelly didn't have side effects, dodesn't mean others woud be that lucky. You give statins to a 1000 kids. Maybe – and there is no evidence of that – you'll prevent a future heart attack in one of them, maybe in more. But one other kid may die as a result of kidney failure or have cognitive problems. Is the possibility of preventing a future heart attack in one person worth having potentially lethal side effects in another? What about having a deformed baby? Is it worth it? Sometimes it is not clear what is safe and what is sorry.

    Ever heard of "first do no harm"?

    July 18, 2008 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ryan

    This article is absolutely absurd. I can not believe that anyone would endorse this. You want to put kids as young as 8 years old on drugs!?? HOW ABOUT CHANGING THEIR DIET.

    Ths is my favorite part of the article "If we are more aggressive about this in childhood, I think we can have an impact on what happens later in life ... and avoid some of these heart attacks and strokes in adulthood," Daniels said. He has worked as a consultant to Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co., but not on matters involving their cholesterol drugs." HE WORKS FOR A PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY. Of course he is going to say that kids should be put on cholesterol lowering drugs, that is BILLIONS of more dollars in profit for the money hungry companies.

    You know what else would have an impact on what happens later in life?? life??? A HEALTH DIET. AN ACTIVE LIFE STYLE....GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

    wow.... this article......... just.....WOW. unbelievable.

    July 21, 2008 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jamie Kelly

    Wow, what a discussion going on. I love seeing this debate because it is what I will go thru my entire life, as well as my kids. I do want to clarify a few things:

    I was not on a statin while I was pregnant. It is a category X medication. I did have an unplanned pregnancy the 1st time, stopped statin right when I knew and remained off until after breastfeeding. It did cause quite a bit nervousness since I knew the birth defects caused by these type of medications, but everything came out fine (in my case). I didn't take birth control because the few times I tried, it had potentially increased my cholesterol levels. However, when I restarted the statins after pregnancy, this time I had a smart enough physician who said that he would not write for the medication unless I was on birth control. There were more options such as a patch and the ring that wouldn't have as much effects on my levels (they don't go thru first pass metabolism in the liver...this is another whole topic of discussion though).

    So second time around I stopped statin a few months before, started on Welchol which can be used in pregnancy (under supervision of your physician). My cholesterol does get pretty high during pregnancies, but it is for a short amount of time and hopefully not cause too much damage.

    I replied to this blog not with concrete answers for everyone, but with a testimonial of my trials and tribulations. Health care decisions should be made based on BOTH well constructed clinical trials as well as "anecdotal" experiences. Clinical trials provide great information/data on safety and efficacy, but "anectodals" give you real life experience.

    For example, being a pharmacist, I make recommendations on a daily basis on OTC (over the counters). I make my recommendations based on safety and efficacy provided by manufacturers and studies. However, I encourage my customers to come back and let me know how it worked for them. By doing this, I get real life info such as "well it worked great, but it tastes aweful" or "worked but still kept me up all night". This type of info allows me to provide the next customer a better picture. I'll recommend a certain product but then tell them, "my customers also tell me they experience ____, so you might want to try doing ______"

    In the past, a doctor would prescribe something and the unknowledgeable patient obeyed and took what was given. We now live in an era where we are surrounded by information. In any disease, I encourage everyone to ask questions, look at published data, and ask people with previous experiences. That way you have a complete picture to be able to make well informed decisions. The only caveat to this is beware, it may stress you out even more. What used to be "black and white" to us (dr. prescribes something, you take it), now is becoming "gray" (conflicting studies, risk versus benefit, etc).

    Sorry for the length. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have as far as my experiences go with hyperlipidemia.

    Kind regards.

    July 22, 2008 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. cholesterol LIES

    High cholesterol is one of the biggest pharmaceutical scams in history.

    Now the drugs companies are going after preschoolers. This whole piece is 100% PHARMACEUTICAL PROPAGANDA. I can just imagine the number of idiots and or frightened parents out there who will now drag their 5 year olds in to be tested and given harmful drugs to address a "problem" that is wholly the invention of the Drug companies.

    Parents, DON'T BRING YOUR KIDS TO BE TESTED! PLEASE! Keep them away from the harmful ingredients in today's food, don't feed them Burger King and your children will be fine. The REAL SCIENTIFIC STUDIES show that PEOPLE WITH HIGH CHOLESTEROL LIVE THE LONGEST! Do a little research.

    Pharmaceutical companies exist to make a profit, not to make you and your family healthy. The best way to sell a product is to scare the public into believing they ( or their children) are at risk of getting sick or dieing if they don't go and get tested and take the latest life saving drug, right away.
    Please consider that this article is designed to scare you into doing something that benefits the drug manufactures at the detriment to you and your kids, not to mention your pocket book.

    You don't need these drug and You're kids most certainly do not need to have their cholesterol checked.

    March 13, 2009 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.