Doctors’ Panel Says Children Should Be Screened For High Cholesterol

Once thought to be a disease more common in middle age, a panel of pediatricians now says all children should be screened for high cholesterol by the time they are 11 years old.

Doctors said that they want to find risk factors that can cause trouble later in life. According to The Associated Press, the panel agrees that by the fourth grade, 10 to 13 percent of U.S. children have high cholesterol. And half of children with high cholesterol will also have it as adults, increasing their risk of heart disease.

Every day, the Boys and Girls Club on Madison?s south side provides a creative outlet for 8-year-old Rikayla and her brother, 11-year-old James. The club also encourages a healthy lifestyle, something that?s very important to their mom.

“It’s scary. As a parent just having weight issues myself has made me more conscious of it,” said Rita Blilie.

Blilie said she supports a panel?s recommendation that every child be tested for high cholesterol.

“I think that it’s sad that we’re there right now that kids have to be tested for cholesterol,” Blilie said. “But I’m glad because right now is when they need to catch that.”

Early detection is also important to Dr. John Phelan, a cardiologist at Dean & St. Mary?s Cardiac Center.

“We know that this is a lifelong problem that is traced back to childhood,? he said.

He said he’s seeing more people in their 20s and 30s having heart attacks and strokes.

“We can see the earliest manifestations of blockages and arteries even in the first decade,” said Phelan.

The panel concedes there is little proof that testing now will prevent heart attacks later, but Phelan says it can slow or delay more significant issues related to blocked arteries.

“Testing early on really is a marker to tell us about potential trajectories for future treatments,” said Phelan.

As the Blilie?s head home, mom plans on talking to her kids? doctor. “They’re due for physicals so maybe this is happening in between that time.”