January 10, 2013Managing cholesterol issues used to be only for the adult population. However, physicians are now seeing very high (and some very low) total cholesterol labs in children as young as 4 years old.
According to James Maciejko, a lipidologist at St. John Providence Children’s Hospital, abnormal cholesterol levels in children can be a result of genetics.
“Genes load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger,” he said. “If we can catch this problem early, we can introduce dietary and other healthy changes that will positively impact these children.”
Left unchecked, children with abnormally high cholesterol are at risk for heart disease and possible heart attacks in their 30s and 40s. Those with abnormally low cholesterol could have vitamin deficiencies, of which the most common are Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Maciejko and Premchand Anne, a St. John Providence Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologist, have teamed up to offer the St. John Pediatric Lipid Clinic, located at St. John Hospital and Medical Center.
Appointments to the lipid clinic are available on a referral basis from the patient’s primary care physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a fasting lipid profile screening for many children after the age of two years. If the results are abnormal, the physician can make the decision to refer to the Pediatric Lipid Clinic for evaluation and management. Additional lab work may be required via the primary care physician before the patient goes to the clinic, where they are seen by both Maciejko and Anne. Appointments last about 30 minutes and include a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.
“Prevention of early onset atherosclerotic disease and other co-morbidities should start in childhood, especially in those with genetic causes. Lifestyle modification, including exercise and diet changes, should include not only the child but also the entire family,” Anne said.
Sometimes, parents will simply need to be much more cognizant of their child’s intake, to avoid future damage. Some patients require vitamin supplementation. Still others, who inherit genes that keep their body from “getting rid” of cholesterol, will require cholesterol-lowering medication.
To make an appointment speak with your child’s pediatrician or call (313) 343-6840.