Small Bumps on Toddler Could Be Sign of Deadly Disease

pillsI guess you really do learn something new every day! If you're like me, you probably never gave much thought to the possibility of your toddler having high cholesterol. As far as I knew, high cholesterol in kids was pretty rare; if it did happen, I assumed it was mostly limited to significantly overweight children.

Apparently not! Thanks to a genetic disease called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which affects 1 in 500 people, even kids as young as 2 years old who aren't overweight can end up with dangerously high levels of cholesterol. By the age of 20, some patients even have heart attacks or strokes. It really can happen.

Just ask Sean and Angelina Elliot.

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Sean and Angelina's daughter Kennedi was 2 years old when she developed small bumps on her elbows and ankles that sometimes made walking and playing uncomfortable. Her doctor thought the lesions looked like xanthomas, which are deposits of cholesterol under the skin. Except that people under the age of 50 rarely get xanthomas.

Just in case, they tested Kennedi's cholesterol ... yikes! At 750, it was over four times higher than normal. (Anything over 200 is considered too high.) Sean and Angelina also have high cholesterol.

It used to be that a pediatric diagnosis of FH was of little help, because there wasn't much parents or doctors could do to fix it. But more recent research says that kids with FH can be treated with statins like Lipitor -- Kennedi, now 4 years old, is one of the youngest patients ever to receive this treatment. Of course, she can't swallow pills yet, so her dad says they put the meds in her yogurt.

Hey, whatever works!

Kennedi will need to be treated for her condition for the rest of her life, but thanks to early detection, her prognosis is good. Which is why doctors are now urging parents (especially those with a family history of high cholesterol) to get their kids screened early.

Says dad Sean:

Our pediatrician said that children are typically not checked for high cholesterol until their teens. Kennedi might have lived for many years with the potentially dangerous effects of extremely high cholesterol. We were told that early intervention can make a difference, and I encourage all parents to get their children tested.

Wise words.

Do you have a family history of high cholesterol?

 

Image via Keith Ramsey/Flickr

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