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Kids' health predicts parents' future heart disease, study finds

When children have high cholesterol or blood pressure, their parents may have increased risks of diabetes and heart disease down the road, a new study finds.

The study, of 519 Ohio families, found that a 12-year-old's weight, cholesterol and blood pressure helped predict the odds of a parent developing heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes over the next three decades.

Researchers say the findings suggest that screening kids could have the "bonus" of spotting at-risk parents.

"Pediatric risk factors -- cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure -- identified families where parents were at increased risk," said Dr. Charles J. Glueck of Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, one of the researchers on the study.

One reason that's important, he told Reuters Health, is that many parents may not get check-ups themselves, but will regularly take their kids to the doctor.

However, not everyone agrees that children should have numerous screening tests.

It's standard for children to have their weight and blood pressure measured at "well-child" visits to the pediatrician. But only recently did experts start recommending cholesterol checks.

In November, the U.S. National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines saying children should have their cholesterol measured between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21. The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorsed the recommendation.

That was a shift from what experts had traditionally recommended -- namely, screening cholesterol only in certain at-risk kids, like those with diabetes or a family history of early heart disease.
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