Parental assessments of internalizing and externalizing behavior and executive function in children with primary hypertension

J Pediatr. 2009 Feb;154(2):207-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.08.017. Epub 2008 Sep 27.


Objective: To determine the relations between hypertension and parental ratings of behavior and executive functions in children with primary hypertension and to examine the potential moderating influence of obesity.

Study design: Hypertensive and normotensive control groups were matched for age, sex, race, intelligence quotient, maternal education, household income, and obesity. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist to assess Internalizing and Externalizing problems and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function to assess behavioral correlates of executive function.

Results: Thirty-two hypertensive subjects and 32 normotensive control subjects (aged 10 to 18 years) were enrolled. On the Child Behavior Checklist, hypertensives had higher Internalizing T-scores (53 vs 44.5, P = .02) with 37% falling within the clinically significant range vs 6% of control subjects (P = .005). Internalizing score increased with increasing body mass index percentile in hypertensive but not normotensive subjects. Hypertensives had worse Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function Global Executive Composite T-scores compared with control subjects (50 vs 43, P = .009).

Conclusions: Children with both hypertension and obesity demonstrate higher rates of clinically significant internalizing problems, and hypertensives (irrespective of obesity) demonstrate lower parental ratings of executive function compared with normotensive control subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Parents*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wechsler Scales