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Original Investigation
October 7, 2019

Global Prevalence of Hypertension in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Global Health Research, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 2Faculty of Life Science and Medicine, Kings College London, London, United Kingdom
  • 3UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom
  • 4Medical School Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
  • 5The George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
JAMA Pediatr. Published online October 7, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3310
Key Points

Question  What is the prevalence of hypertension in the general pediatric population?

Findings  In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 47 articles, the prevalence of childhood hypertension increased from 1994 to 2018 and the increase was associated with higher body mass index, with the pooled estimate being 4.00% among individuals 19 years and younger. In 2015, the prevalence of childhood hypertension ranged from 4.32% among children aged 6 years to 3.28% among those aged 19 years and peaked at 7.89% among those aged 14 years.

Meaning  The findings suggest that childhood hypertension is becoming more common in the general pediatric population, representing a considerable public health challenge worldwide.

Abstract

Importance  Reliable estimates of the prevalence of childhood hypertension serve as the basis for adequate prevention and treatment. However, the prevalence of childhood hypertension has rarely been synthesized at the global level.

Objective  To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the prevalence of hypertension in the general pediatric population.

Data Sources  PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health, and Global Health Library were searched from inception until June 2018, using search terms related to hypertension (hypertension OR high blood pressure OR elevated blood pressure), children (children OR adolescents), and prevalence (prevalence OR epidemiology).

Study Selection  Studies that were conducted in the general pediatric population and quantified the prevalence of childhood hypertension were eligible. Included studies had blood pressure measurements from at least 3 separate occasions.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two authors independently extracted data. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to derive the pooled prevalence. Variations in the prevalence estimates in different subgroups, including age group, sex, setting, device, investigation period, BMI group, World Health Organization region and World Bank region, were examined by subgroup meta-analysis. Meta-regression was used to establish the age-specific prevalence of childhood hypertension and to assess its secular trend.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prevalence of childhood hypertension overall and by subgroup.

Results  A total of 47 articles were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence was 4.00% (95% CI, 3.29%-4.78%) for hypertension, 9.67% (95% CI, 7.26%-12.38%) for prehypertension, 4.00% (95% CI, 2.10%-6.48%) for stage 1 hypertension, and 0.95% (95% CI, 0.48%-1.57%) for stage 2 hypertension in children 19 years and younger. In subgroup meta-analyses, the prevalence of childhood hypertension was higher when measured by aneroid sphygmomanometer (7.23% vs 4.59% by mercury sphygmomanometer vs 2.94% by oscillometric sphygmomanometer) and among overweight and obese children (15.27% and 4.99% vs 1.90% among normal-weight children). A trend of increasing prevalence of childhood hypertension was observed during the past 2 decades, with a relative increasing rate of 75% to 79% from 2000 to 2015. In 2015, the prevalence of hypertension ranged from 4.32% (95% CI, 2.79%-6.63%) among children aged 6 years to 3.28% (95% CI, 2.25%-4.77%) among those aged 19 years and peaked at 7.89% (95% CI, 5.75%-10.75%) among those aged 14 years.

Conclusions and Relevance  This study provides a global estimation of childhood hypertension prevalence based on blood pressure measurements in at least 3 separate visits. More high-quality epidemiologic investigations on childhood hypertension are still needed.

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