Study: Low rate of cholesterol screening in children and adolescents

CHICAGO — Although some guidelines recommend lipid screening for children and adolescents of certain ages, data indicate that only about 3% are having their cholesterol tested during health visits, according to a study in the May 7 issue of JAMA, a themed issue on child health. 

Abnormal lipid values occur in 1-in-5 U.S. children and adolescents, and are associated with cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Universal pediatric lipid screening is advised by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for those ages 9 years to 11 years and 17 years to 21 years, in addition to the selective screening advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. 

During the period from 1995 through 2010, clinicians ordered cholesterol testing at 3.4% of 10,159 health maintenance visits. Testing rates increased only slightly from 2.5% in 1995 to 3.2% in 2010. The authors noted that applying the most recent 2011 NHLBI guidelines to 2009 U.S. census data, approximately 35% of patients would be eligible for lipid screening in any given year based on age (9 years to 11 years and 17 years to 21 years).



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