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High Cholesterol: Doctors Debate Whether Children Should Be Tested

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[ Science]

High cholesterol should be a concern for everyone, including children. However, following a government-appointed panel’s recommendation that widespread screening be implemented for America’s youth, some doctors believe such practices should be frowned upon. According to thoughts published in Pediatrics on Monday, critics of the program are speculating that the agressive guidelines set forth by the aforementioned panel have been influenced by the members’ ties to drugmakers.

Are such tests being done simply to help drug manufacturers line their pockets? If you believe the critics, then the answer is yes. Eight of the 14 panel members have connections to certain companies within the medical industry. Although these individuals have stated the payments they received were used to cover the cost of evaluating certain medications, some doctors feel these ties are ultimately a conflict of interest.

Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article about the effects that cholesterol drugs may have on the children who take them. Such drugs, called statins, have been linked to a rare muscle condition in adults. Unless these young patients have severe issues that cannot be addressed outside of certain lifestyle changes, doctors do not recommend prescribing such medications to kids under the age of ten.

The guidelines recommended by the panel, which have been endorsed by the Academy of Pediatrics, state that blood tests should be administered to children as young as nine in order to properly screen for high cholesterol and future heart disease. Although the panel says treatment should begin with a change to the child’s diet and exercise, they haven’t completely ruled out the use of medication. According to reports, ten percent of children living in the United States currently have unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Dr. Susan Shurin, the acting director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said her organization chose the panel members based on their expertise. She also added that finding a medical professional without ties to the industry is rather difficult. However, she assured the critics that these individuals are the best in the country.

High Cholesterol: Doctors Debate Whether Children Should Be Tested
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  • Jane

    High chloresterol levels are the last thing a kid should be worried about. It’s low chloresterol that is the big problem. Low chloresterol makes kids stupid. If you want your kids to be stupid then feed them egg whites (remove the yolks) and worry about their chloresterol levels. Chloresterol is an absolutely essential nutrient for a child. Instead of creating fear in parents, please introduce programs for kids to eat whole eggs, and lots of them.

    • redtopca@yahoo.com

      @Jane – Your comment is completely baseless and ignorant of the facts. Cholesterol is void of nutrients. Try reading this basic fact article from Livestrong.
      http://www.livestrong.com/article/32301-nutrition-cholesterol/
      If you are feeding your children high cholesterol foods thinking you are helping them, you are doing the opposite. You are killing them. You want them to be smart, read them a book. Preferably one about nutrition.

  • Moki

    The previous statement is ignorant. Myself and my brothers (6 yrs younger)were tested over 20 years ago and due to it being a hereditary trait we have high cholesterol. We were the youngest case at our hospital and due to the lack of testing on kids, doctors did not know how to treat us as children. Now that I am 31 it is harder to lower my cholesterol because as we were younger our liver and thyroid had to be considered due to only a few medications. For the record I have two degress and graduated with honors, so high or low choloesterol does not make a child stupid; it’s uneducated parents.

  • Kimberly Small

    Let’s do something simple….Limit junk food you allow your chldren to eat. Encourage good food choices…fresh fruit and veggies, lean meat, water, healthy kid-healthy drinks…Kids get their cues from us!!! If we offer the good stuff, discourage the bad stuff… kids will be fine. They come here eating on demand and most kids will make good choices if they are available and if they are taught this is the right thing to do!!! Don’t make something complicated that doesn’t need to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jason

    When I was 13 my total cholesterol was 347…they naturally put me on a diet…I did for 2 months…it was 437 the next time. My liver just flat out makes it. My brother had a quadruple bypass at 46 and my dad died of an aneurysm at 60. I was put on zocor at 20 it didn’t work…been on Lipitor ever since, and now Im 31. At 40 mg it gets it down to just over 200. My Dr. just put me on 80 mg.

    I am all for testing kids though once they go through puberty. Because cholesterol effects the lipid bi-layers of cells. So in theory you may need a bit more when going through development…as least that’s my theory. But once you reach maturity if they are high…put them on it…who wants a heart attack at 48 or dead at 60…not me.

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