Two new studies show that heart disease in children is often a bigger problem than doctors previously believed it to be.
Researchers recently found that the blocks in vessels that later cause heart attacks can be seen in some fetuses, reports Correspondent Dr. Michael Breen of CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago.
By using new scanning techniques, doctors at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago can look inside the heart vessels of a fetus.
Researchers say if a pregnant mother has high cholesterol, the heart vessel of her fetus can start to form blocks.
Doctors warn parents that if their child is obese or has high cholesterol, heart damage can begin prematurely.
"A child with a lot of risk factors at age 15 actually looks like an adult with no risk factors at age 35," says Dr. Samuel Gidding, Children's Memorial Hospital.
Children's Memorial has a clinic to treat those children before they develop heart disease, reports Dr. Breen.
In a recent study, over 600 children were put on low-fat diets for three years. However, researchers were concerned that putting children on such diets would help reduce heart disease, but could affect their future developmental growth.
"The moderate fat restrictions of the diet had absolutely no effect on them psychologically or developmentally whatsoever," said Dr. Gidding.
Scientists concluded children on low-fat diets can effectively lower their cholesterol and ward off heart disease symptoms.
Experts say you should check your child's cholesterol if either parent has high cholesterol, or if there's a family history of heart disease.