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Alternative NamesHypertension - infants
Definition Return to topHigh blood pressure (hypertension) is an increase in the force of blood against the arteries in the body. This article focuses on high blood pressure in infants.
Causes Return to top
Blood pressure measures how hard the heart is working, and how healthy the arteries are. There are two numbers in each blood pressure measurement:
Blood pressure measurements are written this way: 120/80.
Several factors affect blood pressure, including:
High blood pressure in infants is usually the result of kidney or heart disease that is present at birth (congenital). In newborn babies, high blood pressure can also result from a blood clot in a kidney blood vessel, a complication of having an umbilical catheter.
Other causes of high blood pressure in infants may include:
Symptoms Return to top
Most babies with high blood pressure will not have symptoms. Instead, symptoms may be related to the condition causing the high blood pressure. These symptoms may include:
Symptoms may appear if the baby has very high blood pressure. These symptoms include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Usually, the only sign of high blood pressure is the blood pressure measurement itself.
Signs of very high blood pressure include:
Blood pressure in infants is measured with an automatic device.
If coarctation of the aorta is the cause, there may be decreased pulses in the legs. A click may be heard if a bicuspid aortic valve occurs with the coarctation.
Other tests in infants with high blood pressure will try to find the cause of the problem. Such tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
The treatment depends on the cause of high blood pressure in the infant. Treatment can include:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
How well the baby does depends on the cause of high blood pressure.
Other factors that may affect how well the baby with high blood pressure does include:
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your baby:
Take your baby to the emergency department if your baby:
Prevention Return to top
There is no way to prevent conditions that cause high blood pressure in infants. However, there are some things you can do that may reduce the baby's risk of developing such problems.
Some causes of high blood pressure run in families. Talk to your health care provider before you get pregnant if you have a family history of:
If you have any medical condition and take medication for it, talk to your health care provider before becoming pregnant. Exposure to certain medications in the womb may increase your baby's risk of developing problems that can lead to high blood pressure.
References Return to top
Behrman RE. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 17th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2004.
Robertson J, Shilkofski N, eds. Johns Hopkins: The Harriet Lane Handbook: A Manual for Pediatric House Officers, 17th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby; 2005.
Park MK. Park: Pediatric Cardiology for Practitioners, 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.Update Date: 4/30/2008 Updated by: Mark A Fogel, MD, FACC, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiology, Director of Cardiac MR, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Cardiology, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.