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Clues to Hypertension in Kids May Be Seen in Bones

Accelerated skeletal maturation may be early sign, researchers say

TUESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- New research links high blood pressure in children to bones that are more mature than average, suggesting that advanced bone age may predict cardiovascular problems.

The new study, published Oct. 19 in the journal Hypertension, looked at children and found that those without high blood pressure had bones that reflected their chronological age within four months.

But in kids with high blood pressure, there was an average difference of nearly two years between "bone age" (16 years) and chronological age (14 years).

"Accelerated maturation is not the same as precocious puberty, the onset of signs of puberty before age 7 or 8 in girls and age 9 in boys," study co-author Dr. Mieczyslaw Litwin, scientific director of Children's Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw, Poland, said in a statement. "Accelerated maturation means that the tempo of biological maturity is greater than average. We found that accelerated skeletal maturation may be the early tell-tale sign of developing hypertension."

The study authors examined bone age in the 108 Polish white children in the study by examining X-rays of wrists of the left hand. They compared the maturity of the bone structure to a reference atlas.

The researchers report that they found that the bone structures were mature in 20 of 54 children without high blood pressure, but 48 of the 54 with it.

"It is difficult to imagine that the process of biological maturity can be reversed," Litwin said. "But we think that some lifestyle modifications, such as increased physical activity and diet modification, can influence both metabolic abnormalities and the tempo of biological maturity."

More information

To learn more about blood pressure, try the American Heart Assocation.

--Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 19, 2009

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