Lipids Program: Intervening Early to Prevent Later-in-Life Complications

June 13, 2022

Through its recently launched Pediatric Endocrine Lipids Program, Columbia is bringing focus to a wide array of cholesterol disorders affecting children and adolescents, including those associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Under the direction of pediatric endocrinologist J. Nina Ham, MD, specialists across the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus have formed a multidisciplinary strategy group to provide pediatric patients and families accurate diagnostic testing, as well as therapeutic interventions such as dietary and lifestyle changes and statins and fibrates to lower cholesterol and lipids when warranted. The new initiative complements the familial hyperlipidemia service offered by the Division of Pediatric Cardiology.

“Hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are major causes of morbidity and mortality in the US, and new cholesterol treatments such as PCSK9 inhibitors are continually being developed, giving us the ability to stabilize the LDL receptor and get low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels down to incredibly low levels,” notes Dr. Ham. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 recommendation that cholesterol screening begin for all children between ages 9 and 11—a shift from its former, targeted screening strategy—has enabled pediatricians to detect previously unrecognized lipid abnormalities at younger ages. This is crucial as cholesterol problems are often silent and asymptomatic until they lead to severe complications later in adult life.

“The teenage years are a prime time to intervene and prevent the adult-onset complications of elevated LDL and triglycerides such as heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Ham. “The adage about the ‘ounce of prevention’ truly does apply in this case.”

To refer a patient to the Pediatric Endocrine Lipids Program call 212-305-6559.