A lipid screening consists of a blood test that provides a child’s health care team with an overall look at the fats in the blood. In the past, doctors felt that children and adolescents were at little risk for developing high cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease until later in life. However, we now know that children and adolescents are at risk for having high blood cholesterol levels as a result of one or more of the following:
- Sedentary lifestyles (playing video games, watching TV, not participating in vigorous exercise)
- High-fat or high-sugar "junk food" diets
- Family history of high cholesterol levels.
A full lipid profile shows the actual levels of each type of fat in the blood, such as LDL, HDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol. The child's doctor will compare the child’s results with normal values after considering the child’s age and the number of risk factors present.
Children and adolescents with high cholesterol are at higher risk for developing heart disease as adults. Keeping blood cholesterol levels in the normal range throughout one's lifetime reduces the likelihood of developing heart and blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease (blockages in the arteries that supply blood to your heart) and high blood pressure.