Can children have high blood pressure?
While a majority of the conversation about high blood pressure, also known as 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:
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.
- Primary hypertension related to hereditary or lifestyle-related factors:
The exact cause is unknown in primary hypertension, but a variety of factors can contribute to the condition, including:
- Family history
- Excess weight or obesity
- Race — Like Black adults, Black children are also at a higher risk for high blood pressure. Learn more about Black people and high blood pressure.
- Excessive salt or calories in their diet
- Underweight at birth or premature birth
- Secondary hypertension: Certain diseases as well as some medications can cause high blood pressure in children including:
- Heart or blood vessel disorders
- Kidney disorders
- Hormonal disorders
- Sleep apnea
- Stress or pain
- Drugs such corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, nicotine and caffeine