Background: The distribution and correlates of serum levels of total cholesterol were studied in cross-sectional analyses of 7,439 1 to 4 year olds examined through the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Results: Mean cholesterol levels increased with age, and levels among 2 year olds approached those seen in adolescents. Racial and ethnic differences in cholesterol levels were observed: mean (age-adjusted) levels were 147 mg/dl among American Indians (n = 622), 153 mg/dl among Hispanics (n = 3165), 154 mg/dl among non-Hispanic whites (n = 3448), and 163 mg/dl among blacks (n = 204). Cholesterol levels were not associated either with obesity, as assessed by relative weight or the Quetelet index, or with breast-feeding during infancy. Very overweight (greater than or equal to 20 kg/m2) 3 and 4 year olds, however, tended to have higher mean levels of cholesterol than did other children. The proportion of children with borderline (170 to 199 mg/dl) or high (greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl) levels of cholesterol varied by race/ethnicity: borderline (high) levels were seen among 14% (3%) of American Indians and 29% (11%) of blacks. The proportions of white and Hispanic children having cholesterol levels between 170 and 199 mg/dl or greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl were midway between those seen among American Indians and blacks.
Conclusion: Additional information on the interrelationships of lipids and lipoproteins may aid in the identification of children who will be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease in adulthood.