By Amanda Gardner

TUESDAY, July 13 ( — Cholesterol tests may soon become as routine a part of childhood health care as vaccines. In recent years, a growing number of pediatricians have been pushing for all children to have their cholesterol checked, not just those who appear to be at risk for later in life.

Supporters of this controversial proposal have some fresh ammunition. A study published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests that testing only children who have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, as government guidelines now recommend, misses roughly one-third of kids with high cholesterol.

The study included more than 20,000 fifth graders in West Virginia, 29% of whom did not have red flags due to family history and would not have been screened under government guidelines. Ten percent of those children were found to have high cholesterol, however, and nearly 2% had levels high enough to make them candidates for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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