Family history and lifestyle can cause elevated levels in young people.

Q: High cholesterol runs in our family. Should I be worried about my daughter having it, too?

A: Cholesterol is a substance that is important to growth and development. It comes from the foods you eat and it is also produced by the liver. If high cholesterol runs in your family, it is possible that your child also will have the disorder.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be screened for high cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11. However, some people may need to have their cholesterol levels checked at an earlier age depending on family history. Ask your pediatrician whether your child needs to be evaluated sooner.

High cholesterol increases future risk for coronary heart disease (heart attack) and stroke. Heart attack and stroke related to high cholesterol are rare in children and adolescents. However, undiagnosed high cholesterol in childhood may have consequences later in life. As adults, these individuals can begin to exhibit harmful effects on their heart and blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Children who have high cholesterol are more likely to have it as adults, but that is not always the case. The cause of the high cholesterol and how it responds to lifestyle changes or medication will affect whether it persists through adulthood.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.

Andrew Tran, M.D., is a pediatric cardiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

This story is from the Spring 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.

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