Pediatric lipid reference values in the general population: The Dutch Lifelines cohort study

BACKGROUND: Atherosclerosis starts in childhood and its progression is influenced by lifelong low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) exposure, the so-called cholesterol burden. Early identification of children and adolescents with severely elevated LDL-c is thus of major clinical significance. This is especially true for children with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a frequent but undertreated genetic disorder. To identify children with possible FH, insight in the distribution of lipid levels in children is a prerequisite.

OBJECTIVE: To provide health care professionals with contemporary age- and gender-based pediatric reference values for lipid and lipoprotein levels to help the identification of children with dyslipidemia, especially FH.

METHODS: Lifelines is a large prospective population-based Dutch cohort study. Children from 8 till 18 years of age were included and fasting lipid levels were measured. Smoothed reference curves and percentiles (5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th) were generated using the Generalized Additive Models for Location, Scale and Shape package in the statistical software R.

RESULTS: A total of 8071 children (3823 boys and 4248 girls) were included. In the total cohort we noted marked dynamic changes in lipid and lipoprotein levels over age, which were in part gender specific. Our data highlight a high and unexpected prevalence of severely elevated LDL-c (>190 mg/dL) in both boys and girls.

CONCLUSION: Our cross-sectional data provide contemporary reference ranges for plasma lipids that can assist physicians in identifying children at increased risk of premature atherosclerosis, especially FH.

year of publication



  • Journal of Clinical Lipidology


  • Balder, JW
  • Lansberg, PJ
  • Hof, MH
  • Wiegman, A
  • Hutten, BA
  • Kuivenhoven, JA

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