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Cholesterol in Children and Teens

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Topic Overview

A child may have a higher chance of having high cholesterol if he or she:

  • Is overweight.
  • Does not exercise much.
  • Does not eat healthy foods.
  • Has a family history of high cholesterol.

Cholesterol tests for children and teens

Your child's doctor may suggest a cholesterol test based on your child's age, family history, or a physical exam.

You can ask your child's doctor if your child should have a cholesterol test. There are different recommendations that doctors may follow.footnote 1, footnote 2, footnote 3

Cholesterol levels for children and teens

For children and teens:footnote 2

Total cholesterol

LDL (bad) cholesterol


Less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)

Less than 110 mg/dL

Borderline high




200 or above

130 or above

The goal numbers for HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides can depend on your child's age and gender. But in general:

  • HDL (good) cholesterol should be higher than 40 mg/dL.
  • Triglyceridelevels should be below 130 mg/dL.

Treatment for high cholesterol

Treatment for high cholesterol typically includes changes in diet and increased physical activity. Work with your doctor or a dietitian to make diet changes so that your child can get proper nutrition while trying to lower cholesterol.

Less commonly, medicines, such as a statin, may be used to help lower cholesterol levels.

If you have concerns about your child's cholesterol, talk with your doctor.



  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2016). Screening for lipid disorders in children and adolescents. JAMA, 316(6): 625-633. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.9852. Accessed August 9, 2016
  2. Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents (2011). Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: Summary report. Pediatrics, 128(Suppl 5): S213-S256.
  3. Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, Bright Futures Periodicity Schedule Working Group (2016). 2016 recommendations for preventive pediatric health care. Pediatrics, 137(1). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3908. Accessed December 7, 2015.

Other Works Consulted

  • McCrindle BW, et al. (2007). Drug therapy of high-risk lipid abnormalities in children and adolescents. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, and Obesity in Youth Committee, Council of Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, with the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing. Circulation, 115(14): 1948-1967.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017

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