High Cholesterol – Could Childhood Screening Help?

A serious condition that can lead to several medical complications – high cholesterol is an increasingly common in people of all ages. Unfortunately, a childhood pattern of unhealthy eating can have a long-term impact upon health right into adulthood, and all around the world more and more children are suffering from undiagnosed high cholesterol.

Now, in a new recommendation by the American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, doctors are considering screening every child for cholesterol levels at the age of 11. What are the implications of this screening, and could it really make a difference to the future generations of children around the world?

Screening Benefits In Childhood

Given that these new suggestions have been endorsed and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it would be only natural to assume that the benefits of screening children for high cholesterol are numerous. Ultimately, such wide-reaching testing processes should be expected to dramatically reduce the likelihood of illness in adulthood.

The most fundamental benefit of screening 11 year olds would be the knowledge of potential health issues and the ability to change lifestyle, exercise and eating habits before the medical condition worsens. Some medical professionals would argue that younger children who reside in the parental home can be taught corrective behaviour patterns – simply put, the teenage years give parents an opportunity to implement healthy eating regimes and encourage more exercise. Equally, the majority of school systems worldwide offer optional sports through ages 12-16, giving children a very real chance to engage in more exercise.

However, the wider medical community has met the new guidelines surrounding high cholesterol screening in children with some uncertainty.

High Cholesterol Is Just One Factor In Adult Health

Although the theory of screening young children sounds reasonable, there is little evidence to indicate that a medical condition in youth will lead to similar problems in adulthood. No existing studies clearly identify the impact of this health issue as children transition into adults, with lifestyles naturally changing over time.

For adults who do suffer from High Cholesterol, a range of treatments are currently available including Lipitor and Simvastatin. Although some people feel uneasy with taking medication for high cholesterol, the risks associated with statins are largely less serious than the threats posed by the condition itself. For more information, read our guide – Simvastatin Side Effects – The Truth About High Cholesterol Treatment.

Perhaps more importantly, though, identifying some children as ‘at risk’ of raised cholesterol misses the most crucial healthcare point – that every child should engage in regular exercise and healthy eating, whether or not they suffer from High Cholesterol specifically.