Hypertension is on the rise in children. In this edition of Child Wellness Wednesday, YNN's Marcie Fraser explains why parents should be concerned about their child's blood pressure.
"We are diagnosing hypertension at age 8. we are taking about that person dying in their 20's and 30's," said Dr. Florence Nolan, a pediatric cardiologist.
According to the American Medical Association, approximately 3 percent of children in the U.S. have high blood pressure.
Dr. Nolan said, "I do get people who are sent to me for high blood pressure, 16-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and sometimes 8-year-olds."
Too much salt is a risk factor for adults and high blood pressure, but it's not necessarily the same for kids.
"We are seeing much more high blood pressure in kids but it has nothing to do with salt in infancy, it has to do with the fact that we are getting fat, and our kids are getting fat, and they are not exercising," he explained.
A child with even one high blood pressure reading is about three time more likely to develop the condition as adult.
Dr. Nolan said, "If you are a 100 pound eight-year-old, the statistics of ever having a normal weight in your whole life are as close to zero as they can possibly be."
If you're a parent who adds things to baby food to enhance the flavor, you need to stop.
"If you start adding salt to baby food or formula in formula bottles you can actually cause a change in brain receptivity and blood vessel receptivity that will make them more susceptible and have more of a craving for those substances later in life," said Dr. Nolan.
The risk for high blood pressure is increased if your child's diet is high in fat, and low in fruits and vegetables. Family history is another factor that may place your child at risk.
Increasing exercise is a lifestyle change that can make a big difference.
"Sometimes all I will say, look I am not asking you to lose weight. I wish you would, just walk with Johnny just 20 minutes without stopping, even that will help by allowing more with elasticity of blood in the vessels," suggested Dr. Nolan.