Cholesterol guidelines for children and teens
A child may have a higher chance of having high cholesterol if he or she:
- Is overweight.
- Does not exercise much.
- Does not eat healthy foods.
- Has a family history of high cholesterol.
Cholesterol tests for children and teens
Based on a review of the research, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend for or against routine cholesterol screening for children.1 But the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that children and teens have their cholesterol levels checked if they have a family history of early coronary artery disease or have other risk factors.2, 3
The AAP suggests these follow-up visits and cholesterol tests:
- Check risk of high cholesterol with physical exam and family history by your doctor at ages 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, and then every year through age 21.
- Have a cholesterol screening test between the ages of 18 and 21.
Cholesterol levels for children and teens
The American Heart Association has issued the following guidelines on cholesterol in children and teens 2 to 19 years old:4
|Total cholesterol||LDL (bad) cholesterol|
Less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Less than 110 mg/dL
200 or above
130 or above
Also, in children and teens:
- HDL (good) cholesterol should be 35 mg/dL or higher.
- Triglyceride levels should be below 150 mg/dL.
If you have concerns about your child's cholesterol, talk with your doctor.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2007). Screening for lipid disorders in children. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspschlip.htm.
- Kavey RW, et al. (2003). American Heart Association guidelines for primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease beginning in childhood. Circulation, 107(11): 1562–1566.
- Daniels SR, et al. (2008) Lipid screening and cardiovascular health in childhood. Pediatrics, 122(1): 198–208.
- American Heart Association (2006). Cholesterol and atherosclerosis in children: AHA scientific position. Available online: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4499.
- McCrindle BW, et al. (2007). Drug therapy of high-risk lipid abnormalities in children and adolescents. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, and Obesity in Youth Committee, Council of Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, with the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing. Circulation, 115(14): 1948–1967.
Last Updated: July 11, 2008
Author: Robin Parks, MS & Christopher Hess