CHICAGO — Pediatric records suggest doctors fail to diagnose high blood pressure in most children and teenagers who have it, an oversight that could have devastating health consequences once they become adults, researchers reported Tuesday.
The study, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Assn., found that among children whose blood pressure readings indicated hypertension, only 1 in 4 had the diagnosis documented in their medical records.
If the findings are extrapolated nationwide, as many as 1.5 million children and teens could have undiagnosed high blood pressure, said Dr. David C. Kaelber, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital and a study coauthor. That compares with about 500,000 children who have been correctly diagnosed.
"I expected to find some under-diagnosis, but it was the magnitude of the under-diagnosis that was most striking," Kaelber said. He said the study was "a wake-up call for providers as well as parents that we need to become much more educated and careful about looking at blood pressure in children."