November 12th, 2011

Controversy Over Cholesterol Testing for Children

New guidelines from the NHLBI and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children age 9 to 11 should undergo cholesterol screening. Screening should then be repeated at 17 and 21 years of age. The new guidelines are scheduled to be officially introduced by panel member Patrick McBride at the AHA in Orlando on Sunday.

“Previous targeted screening missed more than 50 percent of children with high cholesterol,” McBride told ABC News. “Atherosclerosis begins very early in life, even in infancy for children with genetic cholesterol problems. So increased screening is a necessary step.”

But the guidelines are likely to meet with considerable skepticism.

“I don’t know of any data that screening children ages 9 to 11 is of any benefit to them,” Rita Redberg told the Wall Street Journal. “We don’t need to do cholesterol tests to advise children to eat fruits and vegetables, watch their weight and get regular physical activity.” Redberg also said that screening could provoke anxiety and cause additional unnecessary tests.


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