Pediatric HealthSource: Kids and Cholesterol

Andrew Tran, M.D.

Q: High cholesterol runs in our family. Should I be worried about my daughter having it, too?

A: Cholesterol is a substance that is important to growth and development. It comes from the foods you eat and it is also produced by the liver. If high cholesterol runs in your family, it is possible that your child also will have the disorder.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be screened for high cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11. However, some people may need to have their cholesterol levels checked at an earlier age depending on family history. Ask your pediatrician whether your child needs to be evaluated sooner.

High cholesterol increases future risk for coronary heart disease (heart attack) and stroke. Heart attack and stroke related to high cholesterol are rare in children and adolescents. However, undiagnosed high cholesterol in childhood may have consequences later in life. As adults, these individuals can begin to exhibit harmful effects on their heart and blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Children who have high cholesterol are more likely to have it as adults, but that is not always the case. The cause of the high cholesterol and how it responds to lifestyle changes or medication will affect whether it persists through adulthood.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

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Andrew Tran, M.D., is a pediatric cardiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

This story is from the Spring 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.

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Not all high cholesterol can be prevented. But making heart-healthy lifestyle choices may lower the chance of developing the disorder. Parents should:

  • Get the whole family involved. Making healthy choices alone can be difficult at times. By engaging the entire family as a heart-healthy team, it’s easier to stay accountable.
  • Limit sedentary time and increase physical activity. Even during cold winter months, activity is important. Ice skating and sledding are fun ways to stay active during wintertime. As spring arrives, getting outdoors will be even easier.
  • Celebrate good behavior with healthy foods. Take note of the healthy foods a child enjoys the most, and serve these instead of sweets as before-bed snacks, movie treats and rewards.

Be Proactive