In the very near—and very real future—children will probably be screened for things like high cholesterol, depression, and HIV. According to a leading group of US pediatricians, these screenings could be recommended for some children as young as 9.
The new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are only a few of other key steps the agency has recently focused on in order to better advise pediatricians in regards to children’s health screenings. The screenings, they say, should be considered for all children and not just those in particular age groups or risk populations.
Indeed, the academy notes that atherosclerosis—the build-up of fatty junk in the arteries which can eventually lead to heart attack, stroke, and other very serious problem—actually begins when we are still quite young.
Basically, then, the new screening recommendations simply reflects concerns over America’s growing epidemic of obesity among children.
“The goal is to identify risk factors early on, so we reduce their heart disease risk as adults,” explains study author Dr. Geoffrey Simon, of Nemours DuPont Pediatrics in Wilmington, Delaware. He also adds, “it has nothing to do with whether your kids are obese or not.”
But what can we really do if a 10-year-old child has high cholesterol?
Obviously—as would be the case with an adult—diet and lifestyle changes would be among the first recommendations.
Unfortunately, recent data also indicates that, in some children, cholesterol levels can be alarmingly high and they aren’t even overweight: they have a genetic vulnerability to this. For these cases, then, medications like statins can be prescribed.
Dr. Stephen Daniels is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. He is also a chairman for the University of Colorado department of pediatrics; and he says, “It is important to identify those children because you also may identify parents who may be at even more immediate risk for heart disease. It is a way to not just focus on children but the whole family.”