What You Need to Know About High Cholesterol in Children

High cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, is a major health concern, and adults aren’t the only ones affected. Higher-than-normal cholesterol levels can begin during childhood and put children at risk for health problems later in life.

As the number of children with unhealthy diets and excess weight increases, so do weight-related health issues such as high cholesterol. A family history of high cholesterol raises the risk of elevated levels in childhood.

Board-certified obesity medicine specialist Dr. Rohit Suri is dedicated to helping children lose excess weight and improve their health. We offer a full range of weight-management programs that utilize the latest research and technology to promote lasting weight loss.

Our pediatric obesity program provides the highest quality of care for children age 12 and over who are struggling with their weight.

Carrying too much weight negatively impacts health, and children are especially vulnerable. High cholesterol in childhood raises the risk for heart attack and stroke later in life. 

Fortunately, weight loss is proven to rapidly normalize cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. If your pediatrician says your child has high cholesterol, we’ve gathered some important information to answer some questions you may have. 

Why does my child have high cholesterol?

Family history, diet, and excess weight are the main factors in childhood hypercholesterolemia. While you can’t control your child’s family history, you do have the power to make changes to your child’s eating habits, and we can help. Making better food choices will improve your child’s overall health and help them shed excess weight.

How does high cholesterol affect my child?

Cholesterol plays a key role in health. It protects nerves, and the body needs it to make cells and produce certain hormones. Your child’s body only needs a small amount of cholesterol, and the liver makes enough to meet this need.

Too much cholesterol accumulates in blood vessels where the fatty deposits harden and form plaque. The result is narrow and damaged arteries that boost the risk of heart disease and stroke when your child reaches adulthood. 

What are normal cholesterol levels for children?

The total amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood is made up of:

Low-density lipoprotein: A “bad” form of protein that deposits cholesterol in blood vessel walls

Normal cholesterol levels in children include a total cholesterol below 170 mg/dl, with an LDL below 100 mg/dl and an HDL above 45 mg/dl. For children, the goal is to have cholesterol levels within these ranges to protect the heart and lower the chances of having heart problems later in life.

Screening children for high cholesterol

Cholesterol screening is recommended for children ages 9 and over. Children who have other risk factors may need earlier screening. Your provider may order a non-fasting cholesterol test, which does not measure HDL, or a fasting cholesterol screening, which includes HDL.

A path to better health

Partnering with a pediatric obesity specialist is the best step you can take toward improving your child’s health. If you’re concerned about your child’s cholesterol levels, reach out to our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Suri. 

We have three Virginia offices in Fairfax, Ashburn, and Vienna. Contact the office nearest you today or book your request online.

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