High Blood Pressure in Children

Can children have high blood pressure?

While a majority of the conversation about high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) centers on adults, children of all ages, from birth to teens, can have high blood pressure. Just like high blood pressure in adults, there are often no symptoms and early diagnosis and treatment are key.

The American Heart Association recommends that all children have yearly blood pressure measurements in order to allow for early detection and intervention.

Determining healthy blood pressure ranges in children

When it comes to blood pressure in children, “normal” is relative. Your doctor will calculate what’s right for your child based on three factors:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Height

How children can develop high blood pressure

High blood pressure in children can arise from several risk factors or it can be secondary hypertension, resulting from an underlying health condition.

  • Secondary hypertension in children Certain diseases as well as some medications can cause high blood pressure in children. 
  • Hereditary or lifestyle-related factors Even though the exact cause is not diagnosed, doctors realize a variety of factors can contribute to the condition, including:
    • Family history
    • Excess weight or obesity
    • Race — Like African-American adults, African-American children are also at a higher risk for high blood pressure. Learn more about African-Americans and high blood pressure.
    • Age — Heavier and more sexually mature teenagers tend to have higher blood pressure. According to research, teenagers who are obese and have high blood pressure may develop thicker arteries by age 30.

Treatment of high blood pressure in children

Treatment centers on management through a combination of lifestyle factors (like diet, weight management and exercise) and medication (if required).