Did AAP recommend statins for kids?

July 11, 2008

The AAP drew heavy criticism from pediatricians and the media for its recent statement that certain children eight and up could receive cholesterol-fighting statins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) drew heavy criticism from pediatricians and the media for its recent statement that certain children eight and up could receive cholesterol-fighting statin drugs.

The statins, a class of drug usually given to those in middle age and older, inhibit an enzyme that's crucial to cholesterol synthesis, reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. AAP's Committee on Nutrition now recommends considering "pharmacologic intervention" for children eight and up whose LDL is very high (over 190 mg/dL), or who has many family risk factors for heart disease.

The new recommendations are supposed to aggressively treat heart disease at a very early stage. Previously, the recommendation was the children with cholesterol problems should wait until age 10 before statin treatment could be considered. The guidelines also recommended cholesterol screenings for children as early as age 2.

Adverse effects for statins in adults can include myalgia, joint pain, myositis, and rhabdomyolysis. Some statin use has been linked to tendon ruptures. There is little data on statin use in children, including possible long-term damage on a growing body.