Managing High Cholesterol In Children

Children can have high cholesterol just like adults. However, by taking certain steps, you can make it less likely that your kids will develop the problems associated with high cholesterol, such as heart disease, later in life. If your child is at risk for—or already has—high cholesterol, you can take a number of steps. Learn more about kids and cholesterol.

Kids and High Cholesterol: Prevention

In most kids, high cholesterol can be prevented by eating a proper diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Doctors recommend that you limit your child’s cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day, their saturated fats to less than 7 percent of their daily calories and trans fats to less than one percent of their daily calories. Additionally, serve your kids lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, and limit their intake of sugary foods and beverages.

Regardless of what you feed your children, some kids will develop high cholesterol because of their genes. In this situation, further lifestyle changes and treatment options should be considered.

Cholesterol in Kids: Screening

Not all children need to have their cholesterol levels checked. However, if your child is obese or high cholesterol runs in the family, you may want to have a doctor check your kid’s cholesterol. You can discuss the next step with your pediatrician once the results of the cholesterol test are in.

Treating Kids with High Cholesterol

Most doctors recommend lifestyle changes for kids with high cholesterol. This means that kids with cholesterol problems should become more active, eat healthier food, and if possible, lose weight.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2008), children over eight can take statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs if lifestyle changes do not resolve the problem. However, not all doctors agree with this approach. Some pediatricians are wary of using medications for cholesterol in kids because few studies have analyzed the long-term effects of these drugs on children.

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2008). New AAP policy on lipid screening and heart health in children.Retrieved January 14, 2011, from http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/july08lipidscreening.htm

Kidshealth.org. (2011). Cholesterol and your child. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/cholesterol.html

Mayo Clinic. (2010). High cholesterol. Retrieved January 12, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-cholesterol/DS00178