Age– and gender–specific reference intervals for serum lipid levels (measured with an Advia 1650 analyzer) in school children

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Background:Due to the lack of country–specific norms in Saudi Arabia, age– and gender–specific lipid reference intervals are needed to be established for Saudi children.Methods:Blood samples were collected from 1168 children aged 6–16 years: 500 boys (43%) and 668 girls (57%), and were analyzed for cholesterol, high–density lipoprotein (HDL) and low–density lipoprotein (LDL). Reference intervals were established by calculating the mean and the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles.Results:There were significant differences between boys at each Tanner stage with respect to cholesterol (P < 0.001); and HDL (P < 0.0001) but not LDL (P < 0.06) among girls. There were significant differences between boys and girls during puberty with respect to cholesterol (P < 0.0001), HDL (P < 0.0001), and LDL (P < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between total cholesterol levels, LDL and HDL levels at all Tanner stages in both genders. In girls, the only significant inverse correlation was at stage I (r=−0.243, P= 0.001); there was no significant correlation at other stages.Conclusions:Unlike children in other developing countries, Saudi children do not have lower serum cholesterol than their Western counterparts. These findings reflect changing dietary habits and increasing affluence in Saudi Arabia. These reference intervals may be used to aid in the early assessment of cardiovascular risk in Saudi pediatric populations.

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