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Cholesterol and your Child's Health

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Your child's body uses cholesterol to make hormones and new cells, and to protect nerves. Cholesterol is made by your child's body. It also comes from certain foods, such as meat and dairy products. Your child's healthcare provider can help you set goals for your child's cholesterol levels. The provider can help you and your child create a plan to meet those goals.

What are cholesterol level goals?

Your child's cholesterol level goals depend on his or her age. They also depend on your child's risk for heart disease, and other health conditions he or she has. The following are general guidelines:

What increases my child's risk for high cholesterol?

What do I need to know about having my child's cholesterol checked?

Blood tests are used to check your child's cholesterol levels. Blood tests measure your child's levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Your child should have his or her cholesterol checked between 9 and 11 years of age. He or she should have it checked a second time between 17 and 21 years of age. Your child may need his or her cholesterol checked between 2 and 8 years of age if any of the following is true:

How do healthy fats affect my child's cholesterol levels?

Healthy fats, also called unsaturated fats, help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Healthy fats include the following:

How do unhealthy fats affect my child's cholesterol levels?

Unhealthy fats increase LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your child's blood. They are found in foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat:

How is high cholesterol treated?

Treatment for high cholesterol will decrease your child's risk for health problems later in life. This includes heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

What food changes can help lower my child's cholesterol levels?

A dietitian can help you create a heart healthy eating plan for your child. The dietitian can show you how to read food labels to choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol. Depending on your child's age, he or she may also be shown how to read food labels.

How can I help my child make lifestyle changes to lower his or her cholesterol levels?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.