THURSDAY, Aug. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Both overweight and normal-weight children who were born as extreme preterm (EPT) infants are at risk for high blood pressure (BP) and hypertension, according to a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Betty R. Vohr, M.D., from Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues evaluated rates of high BP (≥90th percentile) and hypertension (BP ≥95th percentile) and associated risk factors among 379 EPT infants at 6 to 7 years of age.

The researchers found that 20.6 percent of study participants had systolic high BP, 10.8 percent had systolic hypertension, 21.4 percent had diastolic high BP, and 11.4 percent had diastolic hypertension. Higher rates of body mass index (BMI), triceps skinfolds >85th percentile, and waist circumference >90th percentile were seen in children with systolic high BP. Weight gain velocity from 18 months to school age (relative risk [RR], 1.36) and maternal gestational diabetes (MGD; RR, 2.04) predicted systolic and either systolic or diastolic high BP (RR, 1.27 and 1.67, respectively). Prevalence of systolic and diastolic high BP was 17 and 19 percent, respectively, among children with BMI <85th percentile. In normal-weight children, public insurance (RR, 2.46) and MGD (RR, 2.16) predicted systolic high BP, and MGD (RR, 2.08) predicted either systolic or diastolic high BP.

“Findings of high BP among EPT children at early school age are worrisome and indicate a need for close follow-up,” the authors write.

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