(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension is lower than previously reported in school-based cohorts, according to a large community-based study published online Jan. 28 in Pediatrics.

Noting that current prevalence estimates of hypertension in children have been based on studies conducted in school environments, Joan C. Lo, MD, from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues examined the prevalence of prehypertension and hypertension among 199,513 children (aged 3–7 years) with considerable ethnic diversity, from three large integrated health care delivery systems.

At the index visit, the researcher found that 81.9% of children were normotensive, 12.7% had prehypertension, and 5.4% had blood pressure within the hypertension range. Hypertension was confirmed in 3.8% of the 10,848 children with an index hypertensive blood pressure level who had a follow-up blood pressure measurement (estimated prevalence, 0.3%). Prehypertension and confirmed hypertension correlated significantly with increasing age and body mass index. The highest prevalence of hypertension was seen for blacks and Asians.

“The results from data in nearly 200,000 children suggest that in community-based practices in settings similar to those in this study, the prevalence of pediatric hypertension and prehypertension may be substantially lower across a wide range of age, race/ethnicity, and adiposity status than suggested in previous studies,” the authors write.

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