Preventing high cholesterol in children

November 19, 2010 3:45:42 AM PST
Studies are showing that some children are struggling with cholesterol problems, and parents are learning how to cope.

There are quite a few rich Mexican foods that Angela Orozco's grandmother makes for her.

Good to her tummy, but perhaps not for her health.

When asked if she knew what it meant that she has high cholesterol, the third-grader responded, "Sort of."

The 8-year-old has high cholesterol levels, which were detected during a routine a check up last summer.

After three months, they're still too high.

Now, she's seeing an endocrinologist.

"In one way, I feel guilty, because you provide for her the food, you know?" mom Dalia Gomez said.

With a history of family diabetes, Gomez is determined to get her only daughter on track.

But she's not the alone.

According to a study of 20,000 fifth graders in West Virginia, a third of them had high levels of blood fats.

"Children, in general, are not at risk for heart attack," said Dr. Juan Kupferman with Maimonides Infants and Children's Hospital.

Maimonides Hospital doctors say childhood high blood pressure and cholesterol are generally linked to childhood obesity.

"It is alarming that we see so many kids," Dr. Kupferman said. "And it's alarming the feeling that we are not evaluating many of them and under-diagnosing them."

Dr. Kupferman says a lot of parents don't know it, but they should start getting child's blood pressure checked as early as three years old.

The key is a healthy diet, exercise and early screenings.

Not addressing high blood pressure and cholesterol as a child can carry over into adulthood.