The guidelines, which were issued by the National Cholesterol Education Project, which is part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, could apply to as many as one-quarter of all children under the age of 20.
The panel, while rejecting the increasingly common practice of screening the cholesterol levels of all children, said youngsters who come from families where at least one parent or grandparent had a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem before the age of 55 should be tested.
Children should also have their cholesterol levels tested if they have a parent with a high cholesterol level, defined as above 240 milligrams per tenth of a liter of blood, the panel said.
The panel also recommended that all healthy children over the age of 2 be on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
The infant-mortality rate recorded its biggest single-year decline in a decade, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last week.
Provisional 1990 data released by the department show the overall infant-mortality rate at 9.1 per 1,000 live births, down from 9.7 in 1989. Officials attribute the decline to gains made in treating respiratory-distress syndrome in newborns.
Data released in the department's annual report, Health United States 1990, also show that the death rates for black and Native American children ages 1 to 14 were much higher than for Asian, Hispanic, and white children.
In addition, the report says, white and Asian mothers were much more likely to seek early prenatal care than black or Native American mothers.
A survey of the chief executive officers of many of the nation's largest businesses reveals widespread corporate dissatisfaction with the current health-care system.
The report found that 91 percent of the executives surveyed believe that the health-care system needs fundamental changes or has to be completely rebuilt. More than 60 percent said that high costs were the most important problem facing the health-care system, and 24 percent said access to care was the biggest problem.
More than one-half said health-care costs cannot be controlled without some form of government intervention.
The survey, which appeared in the spring issue of Health Affairs, included the responses of 384 top executives of companies that employ a total of 10 million people. The Gallup Organization conducted the survey for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.--ef