Cholesterol screening recommended for 9-year-olds
November 11th, 2011
02:40 PM ET

Cholesterol screening recommended for 9-year-olds

Children should all be tested for high cholesterol between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21 years of age, regardless of their family history, according to new guidelines released Friday.

The updated recommendations, aimed at fighting cardiovascular disease before it starts, came in a report released by the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The more we learn about heart disease and stroke in adults, the more we know that the process begins in childhood and progresses over time,” wrote Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, chairman of the panel that reviewed the guidelines. “By working with families, we can keep kids at a lower lifetime risk and prevent more serious problems in adulthood.”

Previously, the AAP recommended only screening children who had a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease.

To make the new recommendations simpler to implement, the panel also suggested that pediatricians could use a specific type of cholesterol screening test that does not require kids to fast before getting their blood drawn.

In addition to updating cholesterol screening guidelines, the report also reinforces that children should be exclusively breast-fed through their first year of life, and recommends a diet low in saturated fat after one year. The new guidelines also encourage parents to protect their children from tobacco smoke, and encourages them to engage in physical activity - both contributing factors to heart disease later in life.

“We’re aware that pediatricians have a long list of things they have to address as part of health promotion and disease prevention. This is really an important part of what should be on that list,” Daniels wrote. “We as pediatricians really need to get kids started on the right track and keep them in as low a risk category as possible.”

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Joseph Albert

    If our children were given healthy, nutritious food, none of this would be necessary. Cardiovascular disease is actually quite simple to prevent and treat:


    You are what you eat!

    November 11, 2011 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gene

      i LOVE nutritionfacts! for my birthday this year i asked all my loved ones to subscribe!

      November 13, 2011 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Joe

      Completely agree. http://www.antiagingworld.net

      November 14, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    And there is some sort of mystery why the cost of healthcare is rising? How about full body Imaging at six?

    November 11, 2011 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. BillRubin

    How would this affect management? Regardless of the result, low or high, kids should be eating healthy anyways. I would be surprised if a doctor put a 9 year old on a statin.

    November 12, 2011 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aginghippy

      Actually, there are doctors recommending statins for children as young as eight years old. It's all part of the cholesterol myth that is lining the pockets of the big pharma companies. The biggest danger to our kids, in terms of risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type II diabetes, is the very diet recommended by the medical community. We are so worried about fat in the diet, that we fill our children with HUGE amounts of processed carbohydrates. We are told to feed our kids white bread, pasta, cereals, white rice, fruit snacks and drinks and other forms of simple carbs and sugars. We let them drink gallons of cow's milk. We encourage them to eat yogurt filled with sugar. We feel good about "granola-like" cereals, but ignore all of the dried fruit they contain, that is sure to spike blood sugar. We worry about the fat in a hamburger or fries, but never imagine that it is the sugar in the ketchup and fries that is the real danger.
      We have been given the wrong information for over 30 years, and there is too much money to be made from statin drugs for things to change. It is bad enough that so many adults are being prescribed dangerous statin drugs, but the new trend of giving them to our children is so irresponsible and dangerous as to be considered criminal.

      November 14, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • Arthur

      @aginghippy – Well said, and really sad. Carb does all the damages, and definitely not Saturated FAT. It was at least good they recommend for infants to get Mom's milk for the first year (lots of sat. FAT), but then magically, after year 1, no FAT! Oh my god, kids needs all the good FAT they can get to grow their brains and a good central nervous system!

      November 14, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      What do you do as a parent if your child has a genetic condition that causes high cholesterol and diet/exercise won't help?

      November 14, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  4. Ophelia

    Yep, get them onto meds as soon as you possibly can, sell, sell, sell. Why are 9 year olds even seeing doctors anyway? You go to a doctor when you're sick, not just for the hell of it.

    November 14, 2011 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      Kids should go for an annual check-up just as adults should. The doctor needs to make sure they are progressing along fine.

      November 14, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Studies have shown that annual check-ups and preventive care cost less than dealing with a serious condition that has progressed to a far state.

      November 15, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
  5. Flea

    Why can't parents try to be parents and cook for their kids? I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about how difficult it is to have children and work. Nobody MADE you have children. If you cannot divide your time to properly care for your children, and feed them whole, home cooked meals, then you were very irresponsible to bring children into the world you could not adequately care for. Besides, there are many healthy, super easy meals to prepare. Anyone who uses that excuse is a cop out.

    November 14, 2011 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kelley

    I wouldn't be so quick to characterize kids who have high cholesterol as simply sitting around eating fried food and sugary snacks all day. I was tested at 8 years old because my dad found out his cholesterol was high after his father died of a heart attack. I was a skinny, healthy, active kid whose mom was diligent about having healthy snacks and meals and my cholesterol was off the charts at the age of 8 for no other reason than the fact that it runs in my family. It's good to find out at a young age if you are predisposed genetically so you can be extra vigilant about diet and exercise.

    November 14, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. barb

    here we go put them on statin drugs so we can paralyze their liver before puberty. most people do not realize that is what these drugs do. go buy a bottle of vitamin c it is a natural healer

    November 14, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gary

    Big Pharma looking to boost their profits with this high cholestrol in childeren propaganda. take it from me I was severly poisoned by taking statins for a year on my doctors advice. I had so much muscle paing and weakness it got to the point I could barely walk. only after i started researching side effects of statins did I realize what was going on. My family doctor only changed dosages and types of statins he never mentioned that I needed to stop. three years later after changing my diet to exclude processed food and eating mostly a plant based diet organic diet I have the cholestrol and blood pressure of a teenager. If you want your kids to live healthy lives quit feeding them processed food it is full of toxic chemicals, artificial sweetners and carcinigens. Our kids eat nothing but garbage day in and day out and surprise more and more of them are obese, diabetic and have heart disease. Drug Companies are in the business of treating sick people you will never be cured of anything via prescription drugs they only hide the symptoms and in the process destroy vital organs, muscles and brain cells.

    November 14, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Michael

    Not everyone has high cholesterol due to a poor diet. I actually was diagnosed with a genetic condition known as combined hyperlipidemia. My cholesterol was >2000 and my triglicerides were >5000. The doctor stated I probably have had high cholesterol my entire life (I am 32). My 6 year old daughter and 2 year old son both had cholesterol >200. My condition may have been diagnosed earlier if cholesterol tests were standard at an earlier age. The only problem with tested below age 9 is there are no FDA approved drugs available. But there are FDA approved drugs for ages 8 and up. If the problem is genetic, diet and exercise alone won't do it. So please stop blaming the individual and saying that it is a poor diet and laziness. Not necessary true.

    November 14, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • brad

      sorry to hear about the poor genetics but you truly represent a very, very small percentage of the population. That is what medications are made for- uncontrollable conditions. The problem here is that 95% or more of people out there on these meds are on them for controllable reasons.

      November 14, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Let me clarify. I don't advocate for putting a child on a drug until it is determined that nothing else will work. I do, however, advocate cholesterol screening. If you don't know there is a problem, you can't determine a solution.

      November 14, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • Galina L.

      There is no correlation between cholesterol numbers and cardio-vascular deceases for young men without pre-existing heart condition, for women of all ages, for men after 65. The only group that has a potential to benefit from statines – men under 35 yo with existing diagnosis of a heard decease. Give yourself and your kids a break. Buy the way,high triglycerides respond very well on a low-carbohydrate diet. Also read that http://www.thincs.org/, http://www.thincs.org/news.htm

      November 14, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
  10. gager

    The lipid hypothesis is nonsense. High cholesterol is not a problem, it may be the indication of a problem.

    November 14, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. gager

    When the body suffers inflamation cholesterol increases. Cholesterol is what the body needs to repair itself.

    November 14, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Ginger

    Obviously the drug companies want to sell more statins. How about the study showing statins cause an increase in diabetes? So the poor kids get diabetes and leg cramps ( a common side effect of statins) and the drug companies get richer.
    Just plain ridiculous.

    November 14, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Snajay

    The NIH and AAP are committing genocide with this guideline. One day those corrupted and incompetent bureaucrats at these agencies will face justice. They thought they can get away with the vaccination/autism ... They got more and more bolder with these nonsense guidelines .... They really underestimate the intelligence of the American people ....

    November 14, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chris

    This is why healthcare is unaffordable in this country. No, children at the age of 9 should not have their cholesterol checked, at least not on my tax dollar. If your wanna pay for that out of your over-protective pocket, by all means, be my guest.

    November 14, 2011 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tina S

    I just had my cholesterol checked since it runs in my family. I eat very healthy, skinny and workout daily but yet, bad cholesterol is 250. My doctor suggested meds at first. I refused to take meds as the first option since I believe having 2 boiled eggs daily is not good. I am thus cutting back on eggs and will get another screening in 6 months. I want to avoid meds at all cost.

    November 15, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RJD

    I wouldn't be so quick to start giving statins to anyone, especially kids. Most of the long term studies were done on adults, not children. Since cholesterol is naturally used for cell growth & repair, elevated cholesterol might be a "normal" condition for a growing child. The fact that recommended cholesterol levels have changed many times over the years for adults indicates that we're not even sure what adult levels should be. Also, nobody has adequately explained why half the heart attacks in this country occur in people whose cholesterol levels are below the recommended level of 200. Statins are not without side effects & should not be taken just to get the "numbers" to fit neat little boxes on the blood work. Everyone considering statins should check out the wed site spacedoc.net.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Danny Mark H

    Be aware of drugs that potentiate diabetes.
    Eli Lilly Zyprexa Olanzapine issues linger.

    The use of powerful antipsychotic drugs has increased in children as young as three years old. Weight gain, increases in triglyceride levels and associated risks for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The average weight gain (adults) over the 12 week study period was the highest for Zyprexa—17 pounds. You’d be hard pressed to gain that kind of weight sport-eating your way through the holidays.One in 145 adults died in clinical trials of those taking the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.
    This was Lilly's # 1 product over $ 4 billion per year sales,moreover Lilly also make billions on drugs that treat the diabetes often that has been caused by the zyprexa!
    - Daniel Haszard Zyprexa victim activist and patient.
    FMI zyprexa-victims(dot)com

    November 15, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bbygirl11

    Why do people want to give their kids the chicken pocks??? That is just stupid!!!

    November 30, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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