Blood pressure and anthropometric measurements in healthy primary school entrants in Jos, Nigeria
Objectives. To describe blood pressure and its relationship to weight and height in healthy newly enrolled school entrants in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. Methods. We measured the blood pressures of 650 healthy, randomly selected pupils after a complete physical examination at the start of school in the morning, using standard procedures. Results. There were 301 male and 349 female children (male/female ratio 0.9:1). Their ages ranged from 5 to 12 years, with a mean of 6.6 (standard deviation (SD) 1.3) years. Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 102.5 (SD 9.43) and 73.0 (SD 10.0) mmHg, respectively, and were significantly higher in private school pupils compared with public school pupils (97.1 (SD 9.17) and 70.1 (SD 9.65) mmHg, respectively, p<0.05). Blood pressure did not differ significantly between the genders. Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures increased with age, weight and height in both genders. Anthropometric indices had a positive correlation with systolic and diastolic blood pressures (r=0.26 - 1.22, p<0.05). Two children (0.3%) had persistently elevated blood pressure. Conclusion. Blood pressures were higher in private school pupils compared with public school pupils of the same age, while height and weight had a direct relationship to the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Routine blood pressure monitoring of schoolchildren should be encouraged, starting at school entry to serve as a baseline assessment, with follow-up when indicated. In addition, blood pressure measurement should be a part of the routine clinical examination of children.