Increased blood cholesterol levels have been found to be a risk factor for coronary vascular disease in adult populations, and the reduction of cholesterol levels in adults decreases the risk. Because no comparable studies have been carried out in childhood populations, the significance of cholesterol as a risk factor for coronary vascular disease must be inferred from less direct evidence. It is also important to note that a number of other factors including cigarette smoking, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes mellitus are important in their causative relationship to atherosclerotic vascular disease. A family history of premature coronary vascular disease is also a risk factor for early onset coronary vascular disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) last published its recommendations regarding dietary fat and cholesterol in 19861 and suggested indications for cholesterol testing in children and adolescents in 1989.2 Very recently the Expert Panel on Blood Cholesterol Levels in Children and Adolescents of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), in a comprehensive report, recommended that all children and adolescents eat a diet that on average contains no more than 30% of total calories from fat, less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat, and less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.3 The panel recommended screening blood cholesterol levels only in those children and adolescents whose risk of developing coronary vascular disease as adults could be identified by family history or by the coexistence of several risk factors. In this statement the earlier recommendations of the AAP are reviewed in the context of the recent NCEP report and provide current guidelines regarding dietary fat and cholesterol, cholesterol screening, and management of elevated blood cholesterol levels in children.
- Received June 18, 1992.
- Accepted June 18, 1992.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics