Subjects: Public health
Last summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics caused a stir by recommending for the first time, statins as first-line cholesterol-lowering drugs for kids in whom weight loss and exercise failed to do the trick.
How could they do that when no one’s sure statins are safe in kids?
That’s still a matter of debate, which is why the recent research by Earl Ford and colleagues at the CDC adds some reassuring context.
These scientists matched the Academy guidelines against actual prevalence data for high cholesterol levels in this age range and determined that only 0.8% of kids between 12 and 17 qualify for the drugs.
That’s about 200,000 adolescents nationwide. The study appears in Circulation.
Academy guidelines say cholesterol-lowering drugs can be considered for children with LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in excess of 190 mg/dL, or levels in excess of 160 mg/dL if cigarette smoking, hypertension, obesity or a positive family history is present.
Children with diabetes and LDL over 130 mg/dL also qualify according to Academy guidelines.
The scientists examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found 2,724 adolescents in whom LDL values were available and 9,868 participants aged 6-17 years in whom a total cholesterol value was available.
It turned out that only 26 participants qualified for drug treatment according to Academy guidelines. Eleven of these had LDLs greater than 190, while 15 had a risk factor plus an LDL level higher than 160 mg/dL.
Only one subject was actually taking a cholesterol-lowering drug.
Then again, it’s “a matter of opinion whether…0.8% is a small or large percentage,” Ford told MedPageToday.