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Kids and Cholesterol: New Recommendations Call for Statins

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the recent recommendations for children regarding cholesterol in the journalPediatrics by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They are now calling for any child aged 2-10 to be tested if they show any of the risk factors for heart disease. The new recommendations also state that these children should be placed on cholesterol lowering medication, or statins, should their cholesterol levels come back too high (above 160).

cholesterol medication for kidsChildren who present these risk factors are those who are considered overweight or obese, are diabetic, have high blood pressure, or unfortunately, are smoking. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that by preventing and treating damaging changes to these children’s arteries now can mean a healthier life for years to come.

It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a childhood obesity crisis here in the U.S. As the overweight adult population continues to rise, our children are following right behind, as is their health. A poor diet made of junk food snacks, soda and fast food coupled with a lack of physical activity are responsible for a rise in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). About 30 percent of the children in America have high chlolesterol. This can have lifelong affects on health.

These experts say the combination of medication, altering the child’s diet and the inclusion of daily exercise could help these children stop the medicine quickly and change their overall health for the better.

The argument now- should these children be placed on these medications? Research does exist that shows the use of statins in children aged 8-18 has no adverse side effects. The largest concern is that adults who’ve been taking these medications for years can sometimes develop liver problems. These reports indicate that 4 of the 706 children in the study developed minor liver problems that were alleviated by stopping the medication.

Should medication be the first line of defense for these kids? What about changing their diet, ensuring they get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins? How about exercise- encouraging our kids to put down the video games and instead pick up a soccer ball, jump rope or bicycle?

Considering a study presented earlier this year, in which popular cholesterol drugs like Vytorin and Zetia were found to have little or no effect onĀ  improving heart health, is this possibly a big PR move on the part of the pharmaceutical companies to create a fresh audience for its products? Is the American Association of Pediatrics taking a lackadaisical
approach to fighting the obesity problem with this country’s children?

We want to hear your thoughts about this hot topic, and what this could mean for the health care of our children.

July 9th, 2008