Doctor's Notes on Lowering High Cholesterol in Children
High cholesterol in children means the child's body is producing too much cholesterol in the liver or is getting additional cholesterol from other sources such as their diet. High cholesterol levels are usually considered to be 200 mg/dL while normal levels are usually less than 170 mg/dL. In general, children produced no symptoms of high cholesterol. High cholesterol levels are usually found in screening exams. However, when these children become adults, they may have fatty deposits on the skin, enlargement of the liver and spleen, may develop heart attacks, stroke, and/or peripheral vascular disease.
Potential risk factors include heredity, gender, postmenopausal state, and race. These are factors out of the individual's control and don't manifest themselves until an adult realizes he or she has had high cholesterol, probably since childhood. However, some risk factors may be influenced by the individual, even during childhood; they include diet, obesity, diabetes, a high stress lifestyle, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, smoking, and elevated LDL and low HDL blood levels. The pediatrician should be consulted if there is concern about a child having high cholesterol as some treatments may be controversial.
What Are the Treatments for High Cholesterol in Children?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following for high cholesterol in children:
- In children over 2 years of age, eat foods low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, including low-fat dairy products.
- In children12 months to 2 years of age, reduced-fat milk is recommended.
- Regular exercise: walking, running, or swimming, for example
- Use unsaturated fat, not saturated fat: olive oil, canola oil, for example
- Medicines may be used in children 8 years and older within AAP guidelines (LDH levels and certain other health problems):
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.