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Getting a baseline cholesterol test on kids is a good idea, said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, preventive cardiology chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
"Some people will think it will lead to treatment of adolescents and people in their 20s" who don't really need it, but drug treatment should only occur if cholesterol can't be brought down with diet and lifestyle changes, he said.
If screening is done, it should happen before puberty, when cholesterol levels dip before rising again, doctors explain. In children, the test does not need to involve fasting overnight and can be done from a standard blood sample or just a finger-prick test.
Other parts of the new guidelines: The government will toss out older terms -- "at risk for being overweight" and "overweight" -- and replace them with "overweight" and "obese" for kids in the 85th and 95th percentiles, Washington said. Some doctors have been reluctant to use such frank terms in children, because of the stigma.
The broader context for these guidelines is stepped-up efforts around the globe to target children and prevent problems later in life.
Last summer, the British government gave its first exercise advice for children under 5, urging some daily activity even for babies too young to walk. And the U.S. Institute of Medicine also recently gave diet and exercise advice for preschoolers.
Academy of Pediatrics current guidelines:
Cholesterol info: http://tinyurl.com/23dtxvo
Other government panel advice:
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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