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Ethnic and socioeconomic influences on childhood blood pressure: the Child Heart and Health Study in England

Thomas, Claudia; Nightingale, Claire M.; Donin, Angela S.; Rudnicka, Alicja R.; Owen, Christopher G.; Cook, Derek G.; Whincup, Peter H.

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32835837c9

Objectives: Compared to UK white European adults, UK black African-Caribbean adults have higher mean SBP and DBP; UK South Asian adults have higher mean DBP but lower SBP. Information on blood pressure (BP) in UK children from different ethnic groups is limited. The aim of this study was to compare BP levels in UK children of black African-Caribbean, South Asian and white European origin.

Methods: BP and body build were measured in 5666 children in a cross-sectional study of UK primary school children of South Asian, black African-Caribbean and white European origin aged 9–10 years. Ethnic and socioeconomic differences in BP were obtained from multilevel linear regression models.

Results: After adjustment for height and adiposity, black African-Caribbean children had lower mean SBP than white Europeans [difference 1.62 mmHg, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.86–2.38 mmHg], whereas mean DBP was similar (difference 0.58 mmHg, 95% CI −0.12 to 1.28 mmHg). The lower SBP was particularly marked in black African rather than Caribbean children (P = 0.002). South Asian children had lower mean SBP (difference 1.10 mmHg, 95% CI 0.34–1.86 mmHg) than white Europeans and higher mean DBP (difference 1.07 mmHg, 95% CI 0.37–1.76 mmHg). The higher mean DBP was particularly marked among Indian and Bangladeshi, rather than Pakistani, children (P = 0.01). BP was unrelated to socioeconomic circumstances; ethnic differences in BP were not affected by socioeconomic adjustment.

Conclusion: A BP pattern similar to that in adults is present in UK South Asian but not in UK black African-Caribbean children at 9–10 years.

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Population Health Research Centre, Division of Population Health Sciences and Education, St George's University of London, London, UK

Correspondence to Dr Claudia Thomas, Division of Population Health Sciences and Education, St George's University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK. Tel: +44 208 725 5557; e-mail:

Abbreviations: CHD, coronary heart disease; CVD, cardiovascular disease; FMI, fat mass index; NS-SEC, National Statistics Socioeconomic Classification

Received 4 May, 2012

Revised 14 June, 2012

Accepted 17 July, 2012

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Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.