According to a team led by Dr. Samuel Vinci of Boston Children's Hospital, abnormal blood cholesterol reading are thought to occur in roughly a fifth of American children and adolescents.
The concern is that -- if left untreated -- problematic cholesterol levels among youth could translate into heart disease in adulthood.
Alert to the problem, since 2007 several organizations -- including the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association -- began recommending that children be screened for cholesterol starting as young as age 9.
With that in mind, Vinci and his colleagues sifted through cholesterol-screening data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1995 to 2010.
They found that only 3.4 percent of children had been screened for cholesterol during that timeframe. What's more, rates were seen to have risen only slightly by 2010, compared with what they had been in 1995 before the first screening guidelines were issued, the researchers said.
The study was published this weekend in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in conjunction with a planned presentation at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada.
For more on cholesterol, visit the American Heart Association.