High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is not just a concern for adults, many infants and toddlers suffer from this serious condition. Approximately three percent of children have high blood pressure and the number of cases among young children is rising everyday. High blood pressure is when there is a high amount of pressure inside arteries when the heart pumps blood and/or when the heart is relaxed and fills with blood.
When a person suffers from hypertension it causes the heart to work much harder than it normally should, putting a strain on the heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain. When the heart is distressed for a long period of time it puts infants and toddlers at an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stoke, kidney failure, and loss of vision as a young adult.
A normal blood pressure reading for a child is a much different reading than that of an adult. For instance a normal reading for an adult would be near 120/80 where as a normal reading for a newborn would be approximately 64/41 and for a child that is two years old it would be approximately 95/58. The normal blood pressure reading for a child depends heavily on the age, weight, and height of the child. It is also best to take several readings before determining the actual reading and it is ideal to take them while the child is calm. Many infants and toddlers blood pressure may rise when at the doctors office, they may feel scared, shy, or nervous which is why it is necessary for children to have many readings performed.
Hypertension does not normally demonstrate any symptoms. In very severe cases some symptoms may be exhibited such as headaches, visual changes, dizziness, nose bleeds, and nausea. When any of these symptoms are noticed it is recommended to contact your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
The causes of high blood pressure for infants and toddlers vary greatly. The most common causes for infant hypertension include: premature birth, problems with heart, kidney, and lungs. The most common causes for toddler hypertension includes family history, obesity, lack of physical activity, and side effects to medications.
The most frequent treatment for infant high blood pressure is to treat the underlying conditions first. Normally when the underlying conditions are treated and under control the hypertension will then diminish on its own. In toddler cases when it is not an underlying condition causing it, hypertension can be treated by diet and increased physical activity as determined by the child’s pediatrician. In severe cases of high blood pressure medications my be used as the main treatment.