Cholesterol Screening for Kids: When Should Your Child be Tested?

Cholesterol Screening for Kids – When Should Your Child be Tested?

You probably know that you need to get your blood lipids, or cholesterol, checked regularly as a way to understand your risk for cardiovascular disease. But you might wonder why your 10 year old needs to have her cholesterol checked. With increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, monitoring blood lipid levels is one way we can help to keep your child healthy.

Current guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that children aged 9 to 11 years of age and young adults 17 to 21 years of age be screened for high cholesterol, regardless of risk factors.

In fact, if your child has elevated lipids in a previous test or risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may want to test their cholesterol levels earlier or more frequently.

Risk factors include:

  • Parent with high cholesterol
  • Family history of early cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart transplant
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • HIV
  • Nephrotic syndrome

Nonfasting and fasting lipid panels are used to measure the amount of LDL, HDL and total cholesterol in the blood. Nonfasting panels are typically used for routine screening because the patient does not have to do any preparation for the test. However, if the nonfasting panel is abnormal or borderline, a fasting lipid panel should be done for confirmation.

If your child’s cholesterol levels are high or borderline, you are encouraged to work with your doctor to manage them through diet and exercise modifications. However, if diet and exercise do not help, or levels are extremely high, your child should see a pediatric cardiologist.

At The Heart Center, we will see any patient with abnormal fasting lab results. If non-fasting lab results are abnormal, ask your pediatrician to order a fasting lipid panel before the specialist visit.

Interpreting the Results of Your Child’s Lipids Test

Nonfasting: Non-HDL cholesterol should be less than 145, and HDL should be above 40.

Fasting Lipid Values (in mg/dL) for Children and Adolescents

blog lipid infographic

Jessica Bowman, MD
Jessica L. Bowman, MD, is a pediatric cardiologist at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Ohio State College of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Bowman completed a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, then continued her training with completion of a Pediatric Cardiology fellowship at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester, MN. In addition to general pediatric cardiology, she is also interested in cardiac genetics. Her clinical and research interests include congenital heart disease and cardiac genetics. Dr. Bowman is board certified in general pediatrics and board eligible in pediatric cardiology.
Omar Khalid, MD, FAAP, FACC
Omar Khalid, MD, FAAP, FACC, is a pediatric cardiologist at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Khalid received his medical degree from Baghdad University. After completing his pediatric residency at the Medical College of Ohio, he received fellowship training in Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Chicago. He is certified in both Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatrics.

One thought on “Cholesterol Screening for Kids – When Should Your Child be Tested?

  1. It’s better to be safe than sorry, goes the universal saying. I think Cholesterol screening for children is a smart move, especially with the higher risk of diabetes and obesity that’s rampant in today’s world. Thank you for sharing this.

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