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Cholesterol Screening Shouldn't Rely on Kids' Weight

Guidelines focusing on heavier children may miss the target, study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. cholesterol testing guidelines for children may have to be revised, say researchers who found that measuring body fat isn't an effective indicator of high cholesterol in kids.

In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued revised cholesterol screening guidelines that recommended a cholesterol check for children at increased risk of heart disease, mainly those who are overweight or obese.

Since then, a University of Michigan team have examined the relationship between body mass index and total and low-density ("bad") lipoprotein cholesterol. They found that screening all overweight or obese children would identify only about 50 percent of children with abnormal cholesterol levels. It would also result in unnecessary testing for up to 30 percent of children.

The results show that "using body mass index to find kids with high cholesterol does not work well. There were many overweight and obese kids who had normal cholesterol, and there were a fair number of healthy-weight kids who had high cholesterol," study co-leader Dr. Joyce Lee, a member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics, and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Disease at U-M Medical School, said in a news release from the university.

The study was published in the Aug. 3 issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Our results indicate that the AAP guidelines for cholesterol screening in kids may need to be revised. Otherwise, we may be missing high cholesterol in some kids and unnecessarily testing others," Lee added.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and cholesterol.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Aug. 3, 2009

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