There are only a few studies linking dietary fat intake to serum lipid levels in young children. Our objective was to prospectively evaluate serum lipid levels from infancy to early childhood, and to explore their possible association with dietary, growth and parental factors.
Children (n=127) followed from early infancy were examined for serum lipid levels, anthropometry and dietary intake at 4 years of age. We also studied possible associations with parental anthropometric and blood biochemistry data collected from 122 mothers' and 118 fathers' when children were 4 years of age.
Serum concentrations of total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC) and the apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A-1 ratio (apo B/apo A-1) showed significant tracking from infancy to 4 years. Furthermore, children's TC levels correlated with paternal TC level from 6 months to 4 years, but with maternal only at 4 years. In girls, both LDLC and HDLC correlated with parental LDLC and HDLC. In all children, intake of saturated fatty acids (SAFAs) was higher than recommended, and in 90% of the children polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake was lower than recommended.
Serum lipid levels values tracked from infancy to 4 years and were associated with parental values. Higher serum lipid levels at 4 years compared with 6-18 months of age may result from changes in the quality of dietary fat. We therefore suggest that intake of dietary fat in 4-year-old children should be more focused on quality. Furthermore, as there were strong associations between the child and parental serum lipid levels this supports the view that family-based rather than individual intervention is preferable.