ACC.14: One-third of children may have elevated cholesterol levels

More than one-third of children screened over a three-year period at a Texas pediatric practice had abnormal lipid profiles, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Seery, MD, of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, and colleagues analyzed the medical records of all 9- to 11-year-old patients who had physical examinations between 2010 and 2013 at Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates clinics. They evaluated the available lipid panels to determine cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Of these children, 30 percent (4,290) had borderline or elevated total cholesterol levels. Average body mass index was 19.3 kg/m2 and average total cholesterol was 162 mg/dL. Average low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides were 92 mg/dL, 52 mg/dL and 103 mg/dL.

Total cholesterol was more likely to be elevated in males, and females tended to have lower HDL cholesterol. Obese children tended to have elevated total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides as well as lower HDL cholesterol. Triglycerides were higher among Hispanic children, but there were no differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in terms of total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol.

Seery called the findings “concerning” during a press conference previewing the study and urged clinicians to adhere to the recommendations issued by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that call for universal cholesterol screening of children between 9 and 11 years and again between 17 and 21 years.

“Universal lipid screening in the pre-adolescent population is needed in order to prevent underdiagnosis and to work toward making interventions and changes that can lead to reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the U.S.,” he said.

The research was among results the ACC made available before the studies’ scheduled presentation. ACC.14 will continue through March 31.