Are Statin Drugs For The Children?
Not only are mom, dad, grandpa and grandma, being put on statin drugs to lower cholesterol, but kids at the age of eight are now being put on these drugs. Are statin drugs becoming a family affair?
The answer is yes and the new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics are being criticized by many pediatricians and parents. They are quite concerned about the long-term health consequences of the drugs. They also have questions about financial ties between the academy and drug companies. In addition, there seems to be concerns that the guidelines could lead to more widespread use of the drugs among children. An estimated 13 percent of children have total cholesterol above 200 milligrams, this number is used adults to determine high cholesterol.
Under the old guidelines, children considered at high risk for heart disease could be given statins starting at age 10. The new guidelines apply to children as young as 8 with LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol of 190 milligrams per deciliter, or those with LDL of 160 and a family history of heart disease or two other risk factors. Among children with diabetes, drug treatment may begin when bad cholesterol reaches 130. Does this mean statin drugs are for kids?
Doctors who wrote the guidelines say they feel they are being misunderstood. They assure the public that they are targeting a “small” percentage of children with genetic cholesterol problems or those with risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. They do not feel statin drugs are for “all” kids.
“I don’t see this as a major groundswell for the indiscriminate use of lipid-lowering drugs,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a member of the A.A.P.’s nutrition committee and chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. “That’s exactly why we need these guidelines, to say where the limits of that usage should be.”
Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said statin drugs may affect a child’s endocrine system, which regulates growth and development, among other things. “I, for one, feel unsafe simply saying children are little adults in this case,” he said.
Other doctors said the recommendation would distract from common-sense changes in diet and exercise, which is part of the new guidelines. Feeding our children proper diets and making sure they are getting the right amount of exercise could be the best prevention for high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity in children.
Visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/kids/ to learn more about the food pyramid for children.
Materials from The New York Times and Total Health break-Through are used in this report.
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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