Feature

Cholesterol drugs for children

Will pills prevent heart attacks when they grow up?

What happenedThe American Academy of Pediatrics this week for the first time recommended cholesterol screening and drugs for a greater number of young children who could grow up at risk for heart disease. Under the guidelines, some 2-year-olds would be tested for cholesterol tests, and some children as young as 8 would take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.(ABC News)

What the commentators saidWhat a “shocking and regrettable milestone,” said the Minneapolis Star Tribune in an editorial. “As a nation, our health is so poor that small children may now need to pop pills to counteract high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.”

Let’s hope that this new message doesn’t set back the fight against childhood obesity, said the Wilmington, Del., News Journal in an editorial. It’s important to act on the “mounting evidence that damage leading to heart disease, the nation’s leading killer, begins earlier in life,” but weight loss, exercise, and proper nutrition—not pill popping—are the “first course of action.”

It would be one thing if there were a clear incentive for distracting from “common-sense changes in diet and exercise,” said Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times. But there’s no evidence that cholesterol medicine for kids helps prevent heart attacks later on, so some doctors were “incredulous” that the academy would make such an “aggressive new recommendation.”

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