By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) -Think of high blood pressure, and usually a middle aged adult pops into mind. Yet children can have high blood pressure as well. And just as with adults, high numbers at a young age can cause a lot of stress and strain on organs such as the heart, brain, and kidneys. And over the course of years, the risk of an early death rises with that stress and strain.

So the million-dollar question is: Does your child have a blood pressure check when going to the doctor? And that’s whether it’s a routine checkup or for the treatment of an ear infection or cold.

A new report from JAMA Pediatrics finds that about 4 percent of all kids have true hypertension, or high blood pressure. And close to 10 percent are pre-hypertensive, meaning their numbers are higher than they should.

For an adult, we like to see a reading that’s about 120/80. That’s a stricter standard than it used to be when we thought anything below 140/90 was okay. But because of the differing ages and sizes of children, their readings don’t necessarily follow adult guidelines, and are obviously lower.

Here are some rough guidelines for BP screenings, meaning these are the numbers that are at the upper limit of normal, and require monitoring and follow-up:

Age 1                    98/52

2                            100/56

3                            102/59

4                            102/60

5                            104/63

6                            105/66

7                            106/68

8                            107/69

9                            107/70

10                          108/72

11                          110/74

12                          113/75

13+                       120/80


Readings that are close to, or higher than these mean getting at least two more readings at separate times to confirm a diagnosis, and the need for treatment. And just like with adults, those treatments can include weight loss, exercise, and even medication.

Bottom line, just like height and weight, a blood pressure measurement is a must-do at all pediatric doctor visits.

Dr. Dave Hnida


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