Checking Your Child's Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure deviceMADISON – Should a child's blood pressure be checked during a routine visit to the doctor? A pediatric nephrologist at American Family Children's Hospital says blood-pressure checks should not be overlooked because more children today are at risk for hypertension.

"In general, opportunities to measure blood pressure are frequently missed," says Dr. Sharon Bartosh. "This becomes particularly relevant in the context of a growing obesity epidemic in our youth."

In a recent study involving 5,000 children age 10-19 years, the prevalence of hypertension increased as obesity increased, with the most overweight children in the study having an 11 percent incidence of hypertension. High blood pressure has been linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other medical conditions.

The National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group on Children and Adolescents recommends blood pressure checks, during well-child or emergency visits, on all children over the age of three.

"The expectation is that we will take every opportunity to measure a child's blood pressure, regardless of why they are in the office," says Bartosh. "We are very successful at treating high blood pressure in childhood. Now we just need to improve the frequency with which we look for and recognize hypertension in children."

Date Published: 04/30/2009

News tag(s):  children

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