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Children may be able to eat before cholesterol test

Physicians usually ask children to fast overnight before a cholesterol test. New research shows that this may not always be necessary.

"Cholesterol testing can be very difficult for families," said Asheley C. Skinner, PhD, lead author of the study to be presented Sunday, May 2 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. "When having to fast, this almost always means the child has to return on another morning for the test, which can be very problematic for busy families."

Studies in adults have shown that some parts of cholesterol testing can be performed without fasting. To see if the same holds true for youngsters, Dr. Skinner, Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH, and Michael J. Steiner, MD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, studied a nationally representative sample of about 17,000 children and adolescents.

They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2006), which include results of cholesterol testing on children ages 3 and older and whether they had fasted for eight hours or more. Researchers looked at whether total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides were related to whether the child had fasted.

Results showed that those who fasted for at least eight hours and those who did not fast had similar levels of TC and HDL (good) cholesterol, and that LDL (bad) cholesterol was only slightly higher when fasting. Triglycerides did vary depending on whether the child had fasted.

"These results suggest it might be acceptable to simply test children immediately during whatever clinical visit prompted the recommendation to test," Dr. Skinner said. "Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol screening for a large group of children, these findings could reduce the burden of such screening."

To see the abstract, go to

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at

Susan Martin | EurekAlert!
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