According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the science of "normal" blood pressure for toddlers and children is not exact. Classifying systolic and diastolic blood pressure depends on the gender, height and weight of the child. The AHA also points out that as children age and their bodies grow, their blood pressures normally rise.
Paediatric Blood Pressure Statistics
The 1996 "Task Force Report on High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents" from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), sites normal blood pressure for a male 1-year-old of average height as systolic 98 to 102mm Hg and diastolic 53 to 57mm Hg, while a female would be systolic 100 to 104mm Hg and diastolic 54 to 58mm Hg.
Paediatric Blood Pressure Statistics Considerations
The AAP clarifies that those statistics will change if the child is below or above the 50th percentile in height and weight. For example, normal blood pressure statistics for a one-year-old male that is in the 25th percentile in height is systolic 97 to 101mm Hg and diastolic 52 to 56mm Hg. If the one-year-old is above the 50th percentile, the normal pressures would be higher.
Other Contributing Factors
Abnormal measurements do not always indicate high or low blood pressure, so other factors should be eliminated. An American Medical Association (AMA) news release notes that "white coat hypertension," shows normal pressures at home and higher pressures in a doctor's office, while "masked hypertension" shows high pressures at home and low pressures in the office.
Warning: Technique Matters
While the AAP provides standard clinical blood pressure practices, not all health care providers adhere to the strict guidelines, causing the results to be inconsistent for comparison. The AAP practices include: measuring pressure on the right arm; using the proper size blood pressure cuff; and having the patient's legs outstretched on an exam table, not dangling.
Because high blood pressure does occur in children and can contribute to heart disease and stroke later in life, the AHA suggests children receive yearly blood pressure monitoring from age three and through adolescence.