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.