Definition and application of the discretionary screening indicators according to the National Cholesterol Education Program for Children and Adolescents

J Pediatr. 1995 Mar;126(3):345-52. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(95)70446-9.


Objectives: (1) To propose definitions for the discretionary screening indicators described by the National Cholesterol Education Program for Children and Adolescents (NCEP-Peds); (2) to examine the relative prevalence of major screening indicators (family history of premature heart disease and parental plasma cholesterol concentration > or = 6.21 mmol/L (240 mg/dl)) and discretionary screening indicators (excessive consumption of fat or cholesterol or both, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and steroid use) in a family population; and (3) to evaluate the relative value of the major and the discretionary indicators in detecting high serum levels of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) (> or = 3.36 mmol/L (> or = 130 mg/dl)).

Design: Control cohort from a case-control study.

Setting: Lipid research clinic.

Participants: White children and adolescents < 20 years of age from 232 nuclear families who participated in the Cincinnati Myocardial Infarction Hormone Study.

Main outcome measures: (1) Number of children who have major and discretionary screening indicators; (2) sensitivity and specificity of the major and the discretionary screening indicators in identifying children with LDL-C concentrations > 3.36 mmol/L (130 mg/dl) (high LDL-C).

Results: With cutoff points of the 90th percentile for blood pressure, the 85th percentile for obesity, and the 80th percentile for dietary fat and cholesterol, and self-report for diabetes, smoking, and corticosteroid use, 54% of the 232 children in the cohort had one or more discretionary indicators. Additionally, applying the major screening indicators raised the percentage of children identified to 74%. Twenty-eight percent had both major and discretionary indicators. Having a discretionary screening indicator did not increase the probability of having a major indicator. Applying both discretionary and major screening indicators to the cohort identified 96% of the children who had a high concentration of LDL-C; 30% of the children with high LDL-C levels were discovered solely by the discretionary indicators. Similar sensitivity and specificity were noted between the major and the discretionary indicators. Children with high LDL-C concentrations were more likely to have multiple screening indicators.

Conclusion: Discretionary and major screening indicators suggested by the National Cholesterol Education Program for Children and Adolescents identify different subsets of children at risk of having premature cardiovascular disease. Both major and discretionary indicators contribute to the identification of children with high LDL-C concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diagnosis*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United States


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol