At the end of last year, an expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommended that all children be screened for high cholesterol—a decision that has divided support from healthcare professionals.
One in 500 children has an inherited disorder that causes high levels of LDL cholesterol that may require medication control. The NHLBI panel recommended children get screened once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21. Until the new guidelines were released, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended cholesterol screening primarily based on family history or in children who had risks factors (ie, obesity or diabetes).
Some clinicians find that universal screening is critical in identifying children who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, as well as determine others who may benefit from treatment. However others express concern that screening may do more harm than good, requiring doctors to cast a wide and expensive net to identify a relatively small number of children who would require medical treatment. Those opposed also worry that children may be needlessly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications.
While the benefits of statins in adults has been extensively studied and validated, little literature ensures the safety and effectiveness of statins in children.
Physician’s Weekly wants to know…where do you stand on this issue? Should treatment instead focus on lifestyle interventions?