High cholesterol levels are not limited to adults. Children may have high cholesterol, too, even if they’re not overweight. With time, cholesterol overload poses the same hazards adults face: clogged arteries and heart injury.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommends that children, starting at 2 years, have a complete cholesterol profile checked after an overnight fasting if there’s a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease. This recommendation echoes guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association. Children who do not have a family history, but who have other risk factors for early heart disease (overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle) should also be screened.
“Although the most common reasons for high cholesterol are poor diet, being overweight and not getting enough exercise, some apparently healthy children inherit high cholesterol levels from their parents,” says Julie Brothers, MD, medical director of the Lipid Heart Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Overall, we’ve noticed an increase in children’s cholesterol levels the past several years, and this is a disturbing trend.”
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