New health guidelines: Test kids for cholesterol

Posted at 11:30 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 01:30:59-05

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends doctors screen all kids between the ages of 9 and 11 for high cholesterol.  That's just one of the guidelines in the Academy's 2016 Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care Report.

"A lot of kids that have high cholesterol we’ve noticed, are being missed without the actual screenings," said Dr. Lance Lazatin, a pediatrician at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

Previously, cholesterol screenings were only done based on family history, but Dr. Lazatin said that method was missing too many children with high cholesterol.  The CDC reports 1 in 5 teens and 1 in 10 kids have high cholesterol, which is why Dr. Lazatin said prevention is key.

"if we [screen] younger, we can prevent them with lifestyle changes, medication, diet, exercise.  If we see these guidelines set forth earlier, we can do the changes a lot quicker," Dr. Lazatin said.

For the first time doctors will begin screening kids between the ages of 11 and 21 for depression each year.  Lazatin said signs of depression look much different in kids than adults and include: acting out, changing friends, dropping grades even showing signs of mania.

"Suicide is climbing at a very high rate, if we’re able to catch these kids from being depressed, then lives are going to be saved," Lazatin said.

Other recommendations include HIV testing for teens 16 to 18.  CDC statistics show 60 percent of kids infected with HIV have no idea they're infected and 1 in 4 new infections happen in youth between the ages of 13 and 24.

The Academy is also recommending new ways to identify kids who are high risk for alcohol and drug abuse.

"I think health care at this point should be more about prevention, because both parties win," Lazatin said.