Salt reduction lowers blood pressure in children

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 20, 2006

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Lowering the salt intake of youngsters reduces blood pressure and may translate to health benefits in adulthood, according to a meta-analysis published in November's Hypertension.

Researchers gathered data from trials that followed patients younger than 16 who decreased their salt intake for at least two weeks. In infants, systolic blood pressure went down an average of 2.47 points. Among older children the decline was less dramatic, but still statistically significant, at just over one point in the systolic and diastolic numbers.

The authors suggest that reducing childhood salt consumption may dramatically improve overall health because previous studies have indicated that blood pressure levels at younger ages correlate with the numbers at older ages. Additional research has also indicated that a populationwide decrease, even if only by a couple points, can make a dent in cardiovascular disease.

"We already know that a modest reduction of salt intake in adults causes very worthwhile falls in blood pressure, but this new research now strongly supports the same policy of salt reduction in children," said Feng J. He, PhD, lead author and research fellow at the Blood Pressure Unit at St. George's University of London.

Salt intake has long concerned physicians, and the American Medical Association adopted policy in June urging that the amount of this substance in processed food should be reduced by half.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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