According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, one in three children with a strong family history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes may have significantly higher levels of risk for cholesterol than kids with no family history of those conditions.
The findings showed that such children had a higher ratio of total cholesterol and were also at risk of cardiometabolic markers -- chances for having diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
"One-third of the children in our study had a strong family history of CVD and/or diabetes. These children had higher levels of total cholesterol and a higher ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol than children with no family history," said lead researcher Nina Berentzen.
The team included 1,374 children (704 girls and 670 boys) who had both a clinical assessment at age 12 and parental reports on their family history of CVD and diabetes.Children with elevated levels of these markers were also at risk of increased body mass index (BMI) levels, waist circumference and cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar control. Most of the associations between family disease history and cardiometabolic markers persisted, even after adjusting for the BMI of the parents and child.
The study is the first to investigate the occurrence of both diseases across two generations of parents and grandparents and relate it to measurable risk factors in children. However, "even children with a healthy weight could be at risk for unfavourable levels of cardiometabolic markers if their parents or grandparents had CVD or diabetes," Berentzen added in the paper published in the journal Diabetologia.
Other characteristics used to describe the children taking part in the study were their sex, ethnicity, age, pubertal development, as well as the age, education level and BMI of their parents and grandparents.