HYDRABAD: In a finding that would make parents sit up and take note of, a study revealed the prevalence of hypertension in urban schoolchildren in city.

Carried out under NICE Foundation School Child Health Care Plan, the cross-section study involving 2,500 children between five and 14 years from 10 randomly selected schools found that the prevalence of hypertension was 7.2 per cent (6.6 per cent in boys and 7.9 per cent in girls).

The study which was presented at the recently concluded PEDICON-2010 (47th national conference of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics) bagged ‘V.Balagopal Raju Award’ for best scientific paper.

Principal Investigator of the study, K. Pavan Kumar, who is a paediatrician at Mahaveer Hospital, told The Hindu that obesity, eating junk food, sedentary lifestyle and family history of hypertension were the main causes for the high prevalence of blood pressure among children. He said the American Heart Association’s systematic review and meta analysis in 2008 pointed out that there was a strong evidence that children in upper percentile of blood pressure levels were more likely to become hypertensive in adulthood and early intervention was important. He said it was vital for early recognition of hypertension as it would help in preventing cardiovascular diseases, stroke and kidney failure.

Another significant finding of the study was the direct correlation between higher socio-economic status and hypertension.

There were high mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures in children of high socio-economic status and it was attributed to increasing Body Mass Index (BMI).