Children and Cholesterol

Updated:May 1,2013

Cholesterol And Children Written On ChalkboardCompelling evidence shows that the atherosclerotic process (buildup of fatty plaque in arteries) begins in childhood and progresses slowly into adulthood. Then it often leads to coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Despite substantial success in reducing deaths from coronary heart disease in the past two decades. Coronary heart disease causes 406,351 deaths each year. An estimated 16.3 million (7.0%) U.S. adults have coronary heart disease. . Many of these adults have children who may have coronary heart disease risk factors that need attention.

Evidence shows that:

  • Atherosclerosis or its precursors begin in young people.
  • Elevated cholesterol levels early in life may play a role in the development of adult atherosclerosis.
  • Eating patterns and genetics affect blood cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease risk.
  • Lowering levels in children and adolescents may be beneficial.
  • Cigarette smoking should be discouraged.
  • Regular aerobic exercise should be encouraged.
  • High blood pressure should be identified and treated.
  • Overweight should be avoided or reduced.
  • Diabetes mellitus should be diagnosed and treated.

Cholesterol levels in children and adolescents 2-19 years old
Total cholesterol (mg/dL)
Acceptable — less than 170
Borderline — 170-199
High — 200 or greater

LDL cholesterol (mg/dL)
Acceptable — less than 110
Borderline — 110-129
High — 130 or greater

This content was last reviewed on 12/10/2012.

The American Heart Association endorses these guidelines of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for detection of high cholesterol: All adults age 20 or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile — which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides — once every five years.



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