Pediatric Cholesterol Screenings: January 28, 2011

It tends to run in some families. For others, it can develop over time. We are talking about high cholesterol.

While it’s a common concern for adults, should children be screened earlier? “There’s a lot of debate about that right now. There are some studies that say everybody ought to be screened at some point after about age 8,” says Dr. Eric Jones, a pediatrician on The Children’s Hospital medical staff. He says there are other pediatricians who think screening shouldn’t be across the board. “There are others who say you should be screened based on risk factors. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or the child personally is overweight or obese then they should be screened.”

While the debate lingers, Dr. Jones says he takes a look at the child’s current health situation and their family history when determining when and if a cholesterol screening is appropriate. “If there’s a strong family history of cardiac disease or strokes, diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, other issues in the family that might make you think this child is genetically at risk and personally, if the child is overweight or obese than they should be screened pretty regularly actually.”

High cholesterol is a risk factor for other illnesses and does not carry any clear cut symptoms. This is why Dr. Jones makes a point of discussing cholesterol with a child’s parent during routine physicals.