Screening Kids Indirectly Benefits Parents, Says Study

Posted by: admin on: March 29, 2012

Parents who are particular with their children’s health checkups could see his/her future risks in their reports say a study.


When children have high cholesterol or blood pressure, their parents may have increased risks of diabetes and heart disease down the road, a new study finds.
The study, of 519 Ohio families, found that a 12-year-old’s weight, cholesterol and blood pressure helped predict the odds of a parent developing heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes over the next three decades.
Researchers say the findings suggest that screening kids could have the “bonus” of spotting at-risk parents.
It’s standard for children to have their weight and blood pressure measured at “well-child” visits to the paediatrician. But only recently did experts start recommending cholesterol checks.
In November, the US National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines saying children should have their cholesterol measured between the ages of nine and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21. The American Academy of Paediatrics also endorsed the recommendation.
Therewas a shift from what experts had traditionally recommended — namely, screening cholesterol only in certain at-risk kids.
Heart disease, stroke, diabetes
The study, reported in the Journal of Paediatrics, included 852 school students who, at an average age of 12, had their cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides and weight measured. They were reassessed 26 years later — as were their parents, who were 66 years old, on average.
Overall, Glueck’s team found, parents were about twice as likely to suffer early heart disease or stroke (age 60 or younger) when their child had had high blood pressure at age 12.
Parents’ odds of cardiovascular problems at any age were also higher when their child had had high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
And when children were overweight, their parents’ odds of developing diabetes or high blood pressure doubled.
In an earlier study, Glueck’s team had found that childhood test results also predicted the kids’ own risks of developing heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure by their late-30s.
All of that suggests that childhood screenings can help predict future risks — in kids and parents. But there is no hard evidence that screening children actually cuts their odds of diabetes or cardiovascular disease in the long run.
Study unlikely
To pin that down, Glueck noted, researchers would have to follow a large group of screened children for decades into adulthood, and compare them to a group who’d been randomly assigned to forgo screening as kids.
“It’s very unlikely a study like that would ever be done,” Glueck said.
There’s also a question of expense. And if a child were to be put on a cholesterol-lowering statin, no one is sure what the potential side effects of early and long-term use might be.
That’s one reason the USPSTF did not come down on the side of universal screening.


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