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Children May Have Cholesterol Problems, Too
Date:2/5/2008

High levels increase risk for early heart disease, other serious conditions

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- High cholesterol levels are not just found in adults. Children may have high cholesterol, too, even without being overweight. Over years, cholesterol overload has similar hazards as in adults -- clogged arteries and injury to the heart.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recommends that children, starting at age two years, should have a complete cholesterol profile checked after an overnight fasting if they have a family history of high cholesterol or of early heart disease, in line with similar recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. Those who do not have a family history but have other risk factors for early heart disease, such as being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle should also be screened.

"Although the most common reasons for high cholesterol are poor diet, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise, some apparently healthy children inherit high cholesterol levels from their parents," said Julie Brothers, M.D., medical director of the Lipid Heart Clinic at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Overall, we've noticed an increase in children's cholesterol levels the past several years and this is a disturbing trend."

Children with a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease, even if they have normal weight, should be routinely screened, as they may have a genetic predisposition for excess cholesterol levels -- familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). These children have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called "bad cholesterol," beginning at birth, which can lead to early thickening of the artery walls, premature cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of early heart attack.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is underestimated in the communi
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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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