Lipid levels improve in US children

August 16, 2012

A report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers shows favorable trends in the lipid levels of US children and adolescents from 1988-1994 to 2007-2010. Nonetheless, nearly 1 in 10 children had elevated total cholesterol (TC) in the latest survey. More >>

A report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers shows favorable trends in the lipid levels of US children and adolescents from 1988-1994 to 2007-2010. Nonetheless, nearly 1 in 10 children had elevated total cholesterol (TC) in the latest survey.

The process of atherosclerosis begins in childhood, and for more than 20 years, strategies for primary prevention of coronary heart disease have included efforts to improve overall serum lipid concentrations among children. The researchers analyzed cross-sectional data on 16,116 children aged 6 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during 3 time periods: 1988-1994, 1999-2002, and 2007-2010. Adverse lipid levels were defined as TC of 200 mg/dL or greater, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) of 145 mg/dL or greater, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) of 40 mg/dL or less, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides of 130 mg/dL or greater.

Among children aged 6 to 19 years, between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010 mean TC levels fell from 165 mg/dL to 160 mg/dL, and the prevalence of elevated TC declined from 11% to 8%. Mean HDL-C increased from 50.5 mg/dL to 52.2 mg/dL, but there was no significant change in the prevalence of low HDL-C. Mean non-HDL-C decreased from 115 mg/dL to 107 mg/dL, and the prevalence of elevated non-HDL-C fell from 14% to 10%.

Among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, mean LDL-C decreased from 95 mg/dL to 90 mg/dL, and geometric mean triglycerides fell from 82 mg/dL to 73 mg/dL between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010. The prevalence of elevated LDL-C and triglycerides also decreased.

In general, trends in sex-, age-, and race/ethnicity-specific groups were consistent with the overall trends.

The researchers point out that despite these favorable trends, adverse lipid profiles are still found among children. In 2007-2010, for instance, more than 20% of children 9 to 11 years old had either a low HDL-C level or a high non-HDL-C level, which indicates a need for further clinical evaluation, according to the latest National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute guidelines.

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