Cholesterol in Children and Teens

Overview

A child may have a higher chance of having high cholesterol if he or she:

  • Is overweight.
  • Does not exercise much.
  • Does not eat healthy foods.
  • Has a family history of high cholesterol.

Cholesterol tests for children and teens

Your child's doctor may suggest a cholesterol test based on your child's age, family history, or a physical examination.

You can ask your child's doctor if your child should have a cholesterol test.

Cholesterol levels for children and teens

For children and teens:footnote 1, footnote 2


Total cholesterol

LDL (bad) cholesterol

Best


Less than 4.4 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)


Less than 2.8 mmol/L

Borderline high


4.4–5.1


2.8–3.3

High


5.2 or above


3.4 or above

The goal numbers for HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides can depend on your child's age and gender.

Treatment for high cholesterol

Your doctor may ask that your child eat healthy foods, lose extra weight, and be more active. Work with your doctor or a dietitian to make diet changes so that your child can get proper nutrition while trying to lower cholesterol.

Less often, medicines, such as a statin, may be used to help lower cholesterol levels.

If you have concerns about your child's cholesterol, talk with your doctor.

References

Citations

  1. Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents (2011). Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: Summary report. Pediatrics, 128(Suppl 5): S213–S256.
  2. Grundy SM, et al. (2018). 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on clinical practice guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, published online November 8, 2018: S0735. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.11.003. Accessed January 28, 2019.

Credits

Current as of: December 16, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Marco Mannarino MD - Family Medicine

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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