FRIDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- All U.S. children between the ages of 9 and 11 should be screened for high cholesterol, according to new guidelines endorsed by the nation's leading group of pediatricians.
The recommendations are a major shift from current guidelines that suggest such testing be done only for children who have a family history of heart disease or high blood cholesterol, which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Meant to improve children's heart health and reduce their future risk of cardiovascular disease, the new guidelines also recommend that children and young adults have their cholesterol levels checked again between the ages of 17 and 21.
In addition to more widespread screening for cardiovascular trouble at younger ages, the guidelines suggest parents make healthy lifestyle choices for their children, such as breast-feeding, a diet low in saturated beginning at age 1, regular physical activity and protecting children from tobacco smoke.
Cardiovascular disease is rare in children, but risk factors that may be present in childhood can greatly increase the risk of developing heart disease in adulthood, experts note.
The new guidelines were written by a panel sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They will give health-care providers an integrated plan to deal with all the major cardiovascular disease risk factors as part of regular child health visits, according to the AAP.
"The more we learn about heart disease and stroke in adults, the more we know that the process begins in childhood and progresses over time," Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, chairman of the panel that reviewed the guidelines, said in an AAP news release.
"By working with families, we can keep kids at a lower lifetime risk and prevent more serious problems in adulthood," added Daniels, who is head of pediatrics a
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