A new study has found that hypertensive children (ie with high blood pressure) are at a greater risk of developing ADHD and other learning disabilities.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the study also revealed that hypertensive kids were also more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fat.
The researchers also showed that children with hypertension were four times as likely to have a learning disability and/or ADHD.
"Clinicians should be aware that these conditions commonly occur together. More studies investigating the potential association between hypertension and neurocognitive deficits are definitely needed," said Dr. Marc Lande, a pediatric nephrologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
During the study, the researchers observed that children with high blood pressure were not as good at complicated, goal-directed tasks as their peers without hypertension; had more working memory problems; and were less adept at planning.
If the kids were hypertensive as well as obese, they were also more likely to have anxiety and depression.
The researchers followed 201 children 10 to 18 years old who were referred to specialists for high blood pressure. Of those, 100 were diagnosed with hypertension while 101 were determined to either not have hypertension or to have white coat high blood pressure (or normal blood pressure that shoots up when nervous in an exam room).
It was found that almost 28 percent of children with hypertension had a learning disability, and 20 percent had ADHD. Some of those children had both a learning disability and ADHD.
Thus, the researchers deduced that, in total, 40 percent of children with hypertension had a learning disability and/or ADHD.
"This apparent association between hypertension and learning problems is particularly important in light of the recent increase in hypertension in children in this country that has occurred as a result of the dramatic rise in obesity," pointed out Lande.
The study was presented in abstract form at the Paediatric Academic Society meeting in Baltimore.