700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Cholesterol Screening for Kids - When Should Your Child be Tested?

Feb 03, 2016

You probably know that you need to get your blood lipids, or cholesterol, checked regularly as a way to understand your risk for cardiovascular disease. But you might wonder why your 10 year old needs to have her cholesterol checked. With increasing rates of diabetes, obesity and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, monitoring blood lipid levels is one way we can help to keep your child healthy.

Current guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that children aged 9 to 11 years of age and young adults 17 to 21 years of age be screened for high cholesterol, regardless of risk factors.

In fact, if your child has elevated lipids in a previous test or risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may want to test their cholesterol levels earlier or more frequently. Risk factors include:

Nonfasting and fasting lipid panels are used to measure the amount of LDL, HDL and total cholesterol in the blood. Nonfasting panels are typically used for routine screening because the patient does not have to do any preparation for the test. However, if the nonfasting panel is abnormal or borderline, a fasting lipid panel should be done for confirmation.

If your child’s cholesterol levels are high or borderline, you are encouraged to work with your doctor to manage them through diet and exercise modifications. However, if diet and exercise do not help, or levels are extremely high, your child should see a pediatric cardiologist.

At The Heart Center, we will see any patient with abnormal fasting lab results. If non-fasting lab results are abnormal, ask your pediatrician to order a fasting lipid panel before the specialist visit.

Interpreting the Results of Your Child’s Lipids Test

Nonfasting: Non-HDL cholesterol should be less than 145, and HDL should be above 40.

Fasting Lipid Values (in mg/dL) for Children and Adolescents

The Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital
For more information, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Omar Khalid, MD, FAAP, FACC

Omar Khalid, MD, FAAP, FACC, is a pediatric cardiologist at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.