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Checking cholesterol in 2-year-olds: smart medicine or overkill?

By Expert HERWriter September 3, 2009 - 10:34pm
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Hello! A good friend of mine took her son in for his well-child check-up the other day, and she called me to fill me in on how everything went. Fortunately, her son is healthy and doing well, but she told me something that the pediatrician said that pretty much amazed her. The doctor told her that the latest recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should start getting their cholesterol checked at the age of 2. My girlfriend said that even the doctor looked sort of amazed at this recommendation.

Her son is older than 2, and the pediatrician didn't push her to get his cholesterol checked right away, but she did throw it out there for my friend to think about.

I have to say this is a new one for me. I'm all for regular tests and keeping as healthy as possible, and when it comes to our kids we definitely need to be vigilant about what they are eating as much as we can and to stay on top of their checkups, shots, etc. But I thought this was pretty young to start doing regular cholesterol checks.

Have any of you heard of this before? If so, have you had your young child tested? If the results were too high, what did you need to do? Do any of you think this is maybe going overboard with testing at such a young age?

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I don't think it's overkill. My neighbor feeds her 1 year old Burger King and I think it would be a great idea to have her child tested at 2. Even my step daughter who has always been thin and her mother does not allow coke or an excessive amount of junk food had high cholesterol levels when she was 6, luckily with a slight modification in her diet, her levels are now normal.

Chocolate and Fried foods are two things no 2 year old should be consuming let alone regularly. My doctor hasn't mentioned this to me because my son is only 7 months old but he did tell me to be watchful of what he starts eating now and how fast he gains weight because where once infant diabetes was practically unheard of he now has at least 2 cases a year of children under the age of 1 with diabetes.

I think it's sad that our kids have to be tested this early but I do think it's necessary. As parents, we have a responsibility to our children to keep them as healthy as we can while we are in control of their eating habits.

September 7, 2009 - 6:07am
Expert HERWriter

Thanks to both of you for your excellent comments! You are correct Brock and Susanc that there are so many kids with weight issues. I'm honestly not sure if this is why pediatricians are recommending the cholesterol check at age 2 or not as I know people with high cholesterol who are bean pole thin, but you are definitely right that a lot of kids are heavy and may be at higher risk for this issue.

I showed my friend your great comments and she added that her pediatrician said they can tell pretty accurately what future health issues a child will have based on his or her BMI score (body mass index), also at 2. Wow. So many people refer to "baby fat" and that type of thing but it really can apparently impact their future health. She said it was for things like diabetes, etc. My friend will be the first to admit that she has battled a weight issue (she is thin now but not always) and her husband is still dealing with one so she is going to be extra careful that their son does not show any signs of the weight gain Susanc described.

Thank you again for your input! Michelle

September 6, 2009 - 10:40pm
HERWriter Guide

My first reaction to this was "no! not necessary in a 2 year old" until I took my kids to the beach recently and was floored by the amount of over-weight kids.

My town is one of those towns with a high vegetarian population, very outdoorsy, very health conscious. My kids pediatrician said they have more problems with underweight kids than overweight (one of my own kids was far too skinny but has now evened out thankfully, although my kids are still quite lean) so I had never seen this phenomenon of fat kids that I hear about all the time.

That changed at the beach this summer. Not only were the older children overweight but I saw little boys, no older than 6 or 7 with boy-boobs (for what of a better expression) due to their weight and I also saw toddlers with rolls of fat and walking with a waddle, do to excess rate. I had made a home-made picnic for my kids (unprocessed cheese, whole grain bread, yogurts, and iced water to drink) and these kids were eating hotdogs, fries and huge ice-creams. We don't feed our kids "perfect" foods all the time, we do the occasional pizzas and ice-creams too but these kids obviously ate this everyday. I know this is a heck of a lot easier than making a home-made picnic and putting it in coolers with ice etc but it's also more expensive to feed kids the junk from concession stands at beaches.

I felt terribly sorry for the kids and a bit angry at the parents. Surely you know that an apple is better than french fries - I just can't buy that people don't know this. And do the parents not see that their two year old is weighing 40 lbs and is not even tall? Can they really not see that their 6 year old boy has breast tissue and actually looks pregnant?

So yes, I think doctors have been put in a position that a cholesterol check is necessary for some toddlers because we are killing them with a diet of absolute junk. We punish parents who starve their kids yet somehow we close our eyes to parents who feed their children nothing but grease and sugar and then have an obese kindergartner who is suffering from malnourishment, despite being twice his ideal weight. I honestly never thought about it till that day on the beach. I did a long scan of the demographic of kids and estimated that 70% of them were extremely over-weight and it was all I could think about for the rest of the day. Made me mad and sad at the same time.

Sorry Michelle, I guess you touched on a subject a bit sore for me due to this beach visit but I am really not surprised at these health screenings anymore!

September 4, 2009 - 12:32pm

Seriously? Is that how low a lifespan they are expecting our children's generation has become that they start checking for cholesterol at the age of 2? And maybe even get a cholesterol problem by 5 and a heart-attack by 10? I hate to admit it, but this is a little bit too much for me.
However, I guess it is not impossible for a child at that young age to start being too much of a health risk. I for one has a niece that is a year old and she weighs 20 kilos already. That makes her have a weight problem at the age of 2 so a cholesterol problem might just be around the corner if parents just don't care what their child eats.

September 4, 2009 - 12:29am
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