This blood test measures different types of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are types of fat in the blood.
Your child’s body makes some cholesterol and gets the rest from foods such as meats, eggs, and milk products. Your child needs cholesterol to make hormones and to build and keep healthy cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy. However, too much of these fats in your child’s blood can cause problems that increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Another name for this test is lipid profile.
Because abnormal levels of lipids do not cause symptoms for years, you may not know that your child’s cholesterol level is high. If this test shows that your child has high cholesterol, you can start treatment to lower it and decrease your child’s chances of heart disease. Your child is at high risk of heart disease if:
The AAP recommends that all children be screened for cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21.
If your child is working to improve his cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, or medicine, this test can help show how well your child’s treatment is working.
It is best for your child to wait at least 2 months after a severe infection, surgery, injury, or pregnancy to have this test.
A small amount of blood is taken from a finger with a fingerstick or from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.
Total cholesterol: Your child’s total cholesterol should be less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
LDL cholesterol: LDL cholesterol leaves behind fatty deposits on artery walls and contributes to heart disease. LDL is called bad cholesterol. (You can think of "L" for "lousy" cholesterol.) Your child’s LDL cholesterol should be less than 110 mg/dL.
HDL cholesterol: HDL cleans the artery walls, removes extra cholesterol from the body, and lowers the risk of heart disease. HDL is called good cholesterol. Because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease, higher numbers are better. Your child’s HDL cholesterol should be greater than 35 mg/dL.
Triglycerides: Generally, it’s good for your child to have a triglyceride level lower than 125 mg/dL. Triglycerides higher than this may increase your child’s risk of health problems, including heart disease.
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the result and ask questions, such as: