Parents bringing their kids to their well visits will likely review their height, weight, vaccinations, and now ... blood pressure. CNN reports on new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and printed in the September issue of the Pediatrics journal that include updated diagnosis tables based on kids within their normal weight range—and, based on these updates, it's likely that more kids and teens are going to be given a high blood pressure diagnosis. To revamp these hypertension guidelines, last updated in 2004, a 20-person committee looked at almost 15,000 articles revolving around abnormal blood pressure in kids and teens, which is caused by different reasons per age group (including underlying conditions like kidney disease in infants and little kids, and murkier causes for older kids and teens).
But hypertension—which an AAP release notes occurs in 2% to 5% of all pediatric patients and falls within the top five chronic conditions for the under-18 set—is complex, with lead author Dr. Joseph Flynn noting to CNN that a variety of factors may be at work, including obesity and family history. No matter the cause, it's critical kids are checked, as scientists think untreated hypertension in kids may lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later on. "If there is diagnosis of hypertension, there are many ways we can treat it … but because the symptoms are silent, the condition is often overlooked," study co-author David Kaelber tells MedPage Today. Parents should make sure blood pressure it routinely checked during doctor visits and managed through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication, if needed. (Bad for blood pressure: smog.)