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Texas Children Have Alarming Cholesterol Rates, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 28, 2014 01:26 PM EDT

With the childhood obesity epidemic at large, more cases of cholesterol have been detected in young children. According to the statistics from the nation's largest pediatric primary care organization located in Texas, roughly one in every three children between the ages of nine and 11 has borderline or high cholesterol.

The researchers examined medical data on 12,712 children who were a part of the Texas Children's Pediatrics Associates clinics. The clinics routinely screened the children for cholesterol. The researchers found that 4,709 of the children in the age group of nine to 11 had borderline or high cholesterol.

"The sheer number of kids with abnormal lipid profiles provides further evidence that this is a population that needs attention and could potentially benefit from treatment," said lead investigator, Thomas Seery, M.D., pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children's Hospital, assistant professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. "But we can only intervene if we diagnose the problem."

The study also reported that boys were more likely than girls to have cholesterol problems. Boys had more cases of high cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is often called the bad cholesterol, and triglycerides. Girls tended to have lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol. The team also found that obese children tended to have elevated total cholesterol, higher LDL and triglycerides, and lower HDL when compared to non-obese children Since cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, the researchers stressed the importance of helping children reduce their levels.

"Kids need to have their cholesterol panel checked at some point during this timeframe [9 to 11 years old]," Seery said in the press release. "In doing so, it presents the perfect opportunity for clinicians and parents to discuss the importance of healthy lifestyle choices on cardiovascular health. Our findings give a compelling reason to screen all kids' blood cholesterol."

The findings will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

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