Cholesterol Testing Encouraged For Kids’ – Some Important Information Worth Reading:
As reported by The Associated Press in the News & Messenger Serving Prince William, Manassas & Manassas Park, Virginia – Every child should be tested for cholesterol as early as age 9, surprising new advice from a government panel that suggests screening kids in grade school for a problem more common in middle age. This idea will come as a shock to most parent. And it’s certain to stir some debate.
Doctors on a expert panel announced the new guidelines Friday concede there is little proof that testing now will prevent heart attacks decades later. But many doctors say waiting might be too late for children who have hidden risks.
Fat deposits form in the heart arteries in childhood but don’t usually harden them and cause symptoms until later in life. The panel urges cholesterol screening between ages 9 and 11 – before puberty, when cholesterol temporarily dips – and again between ages 17 and 21.
The panel also suggests diabetes screening every two years starting as early as early as 9 for children who are overweight and have other risks for Type 2 diabetes, including family history.
These new guidelines are from an expert panel appointed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Some facts everyone agrees on:
1.) By the fourth grade, 10 to 13 percent of U.S. children have high cholesterol, defined as a score of 200 or more.
2.) Half of children with high cholesterol will also have it as adults, raising their risk of heart disease.
3.) One-third of U.S. children and teens are obese or overweight, which makers high cholesterol and diabetes more likely.
Until now, cholesterol testing has only been done for kids with a known family history of early heart disease or inherited high cholesterol, or with risk factors such as obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure. That approach misses about 30 percent of kids with high cholesterol.
One of the guideline panel members, Dr. Elaine Urbina, director of preventive cardiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center indicated: If we screen at age 20, it may be already too late.
Director of preventive cardiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center indicated: To me, it’s not controversial at all. We should have been doing this for years.
Dr. Roger Blumenthal, who is preventive cardiology chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and had no role in the guidelines, indicate he thinks his 12-year-old son should be tested because he has a cousin with very high “bad” cholesterol who needed heart bypass surgery for clogged arteries in his 40s.
He indicated, he is very supportive of universal screening. Saying, the knowledge of their cholesterol numbers as well as their blood sugar levels can be very helpful for the physicians and their families about which patients are headed toward diabetes.
A pediatrics and preventive medicine professor at Vanderbilt University, Dr. William Cooper indicated: Expanding the testing guidelines would seem to me to make sense. But he also added: One of the risks would be that we would be treating more kids, potentially, and we don’t know yet the implications of what we’re treating. Are we treating a number or are we treating a risk factor.
That’s why a different group of government advisers, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, concluded in 2007 that not enough is known about the possible benefits and risks to recommend for or against cholesterol screening for children and teens.
One of its leaders, Dr. Michael LeFevre, a family medicine specialist at the University of Missouri, said that for the task force to declare screening beneficial there must be evidence that treatment improves health, such as preventing heart attacks, rather than just nudging down a number – the cholesterol score.
Report by The Associate Press in the News & Messenger Serving Prince William, Manassas & Manassas Park, Virginia