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Should children have cholesterol screenings?

While routine screening of children for high cholesterol isn't necessary, you may want to consider it under certain circumstances.

Children should be screened whose parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles have high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease before age 55 for men and 65 for women.

Higher-than-normal blood cholesterol among children does not always predict high levels in adulthood. But for children from high-risk families, check with your doctor and work with a registered dietitian to bring cholesterol levels down.

In 2011, the National Institutes of Health released guidelines recommending that children be routinely screened for high cholesterol between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21. The test should then be repeated at least once every five years, more often depending on your risk range. Medicare beneficiaries can now get a free cardiovascular screening test for cholesterol, triglycerides and lipid levels. Ask your healthcare professional about this benefit.

Additionally, children age two or older with a family history of premature heart disease, at least one parent with high blood cholesterol or a condition commonly associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, such as obesity or hypertension, should have their cholesterol levels tested.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.