(RxWiki News) As obesity has increased in recent years, children have increasingly struggled with high blood pressure. A new study found that the number of pediatric hypertension-related hospitalizations has nearly doubled over a decade.
Hospital fees to treat children with high blood pressure also increased significantly between 1997 and 2006.
"Encourage children to engage in regular physical activity."
Cheryl Tran, M.D., study lead author and pediatric nephrology fellow in the Department of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Michigan, said the increase in hospitalizations was expected, but that the economic burden created by inpatient childhood hypertension was surprising.
During the national study researchers reviewed hospital hypertension discharge records in children through the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Kids’ Inpatient Database from 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
They discovered 12,661 U.S. hospitalizations among hypertensive children in 1997, a number that grew to 24,602 in 2006. The average hospital stay also was found to be considerably longer as compared to children with other illnesses. Children with high blood pressure stayed in the hospital for about eight days compared to about four days in kids there for other types of treatment.
The most common diagnoses for hospitalized children included pneumonia, acute appendicitis and asthma.
Inpatient care for hypertensive children also increased 50 percent during that period, reaching $3.1 billion. Investigators determined that hospitalization costs were highest for children with hypertension or end stage kidney disease.
Children hospitalized for high blood pressure were most likely to be male, over the age of 9, African-American and treated at a teaching hospital.
Investigators suggest the increased hospitalizations may, in part, stem from an increase in childhood obesity. Encouraging healthy lifestyles could help reduce the prevalence of hypertension, Dr. Tran said.
The study, funded by a research training grant in pediatric nephrology, was recently published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.