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NIH and AAP: Kids Should Be Screen for Cholesterol Starting at Age 9

Although heart disease is rare in children, risk factors for later cardiovascular problems can present themselves in childhood. That’s why new guidelines sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that kids should get a cholesterol screening at least once between age 9-11 and again between age 17-21.

Previous guidelines recommended screening only for kids with a family medical history that would indicate increased risk. Pediatrician will be able to use a non-HDL cholesterol test that does not require children to fast; only children with abnormal results will be required to also complete with a fasting lipid profile.

“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,” said Stephen R. Daniels, MD, PhD, FAAP, chair of the expert 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.”

Less than 1% of kids would qualify for cholesterol-lowering meds, but knowing their number might help them exercise and eat better, which will set them on a healthier path for later in life.

Have you gotten your kids cholesterol screenings? Are you worried about their numbers?