Well, last week’s doctor’s appointment was definitely not my kids’ first, but I can’t help writing about the peculiar measurement taken by the clinic’s nurse this time around. Typically before my children’s visit with the family doctor, basic measurements are taken: weight, height, and head circumference. This time the nurse successfully made my four year-old sit still, and with a child-sized cuff, took his blood pressure. It was so effective in keeping this normally rambunctious child from running, it made me think of getting a home blood pressure monitor…
So of course it begged the question, what purpose does this information serve? What will they do with the results? Turns out there’s quite a bit of research is this area; with obesity being a more common occurrence among our youth, it’s not impossible for children and teens to be impacted by diseases that are normally thought of only affecting adults. So yes, children as early as three years-old should have their blood pressure routinely measured as part of their annual check-up. In younger children, high blood pressure results are generally indicators for more serious underlying issues such as kidney or heart disease that would have otherwise gone undetected: all the more reason to have your child’s blood pressure taken.
So what if your child is diagnosed with blood pressure that’s not related to other health conditions such as heart defects, kidney disease, genetic conditions or hormonal disorders? The first option is no different than what’s suggested for adults, lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, lower salt intakes and exercise. As a parent or caregiver, you can ensure that your home is stocked with only healthful food choices. A power you will soon lose as your child becomes a teenager and young adult. If your child is diagnosed with severe blood pressure, they may be prescribed blood pressure medications. Yes, there are blood pressure medications approved for infants as young as six months.
But before your mind goes into a frenzy about medicating a child, high blood pressure is rare among children and can be prevented by making the same lifestyle changes that can help treat it, controlling your child’s weight, providing a healthy diet and encouraging your child to exercise. It helps you with keeping fit too, children learn best by example after all.
In the meantime, enjoy the five minutes of peace while your child is sitting quietly to have their blood pressure taken.