Time for Testing?
My uncle recently found out he has high cholesterol. As a family, they've changed their eating habits and my aunt has been making dinners including foods that are low in cholesterol. She frequently jokes about how much she misses their "fatty dinners."
Their sons are 5 and 2 years old. When should my cousins expect to start thinking about their own cholesterol levels? According to this recent article, probably sooner than you would think.
There's been a debate going on for quite some time if children should be getting a lipid profile done early on. Because scientists have found the first signs of atherosclerosis often begin during childhood, they are questioning if children should be tested for high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol. According to the article, approximately 70% of autopsies of teenagers and young adults have found early signs of atherosclerosis. The CDC has found that 1 in 5 people ages 12 to 19 have at least one abnormal lipid level.
Some physicians believe all kids should be tested, not just ones who are deemed at high risk because of their weight or family history of lipid disorders, diabetes or high blood pressure. Right now the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force does not find sufficient evidence to recommend screening children for lipid disorders--they also haven't found enough evidence to say it's bad, either.
The article also points out that you can make a case for screening everyone, but doing a cholesterol profile "runs up the bill" and can be uncomfortable for all patients--especially the youngest ones.
What are your views on this topic?