BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
Blood pressure levels may vary in children because of genetic, ethnic and socioeconomic factors. To date, there have been no large national studies in Saudi Arabia on blood pressure in children. Therefore, we sought to establish representative blood pressure reference centiles for Saudi Arabian children and adolescents.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS:
We selected a sample of children and adolescents aged from birth to 18 years by multi-stage probability sampling of the Saudi population. The selected sample represented Saudi children from the whole country. Data were collected through a house-to-house survey of all selected households in all 13 regions in the country. Data were analyzed to study the distribution pattern of systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and to develop reference values. The 90th percentile of SBP and DBP values for each age were compared with values from a Turkish and an American study.
A total of 16 226 Saudi children and adolescents from birth to 18 years were studied. Blood pressure rose steadily with age in both boys and girls. The average annual increase in SBP was 1.66 mm Hg for boys and 1.44 mm Hg for girls. The average annual increase in DBP was 0.83 mm Hg for boys and 0.77 mm Hg for girls. DBP rose sharply in boys at the age of 18 years. Values for the 90th percentile of both SBP and DBP varied in Saudi children from their Turkish and American counterparts for all age groups.
Blood pressure values in this study differed from those from other studies in developing countries and in the United States, indicating that comparison across studies is difficult and from that every population should use their own normal standards to define measured blood pressure levels in children.