Sexual maturation and racial differences in blood pressure in girls: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study

      Abstract

      OBJECTIVE: To evaluate racial differences in blood pressure in girls aged 9 to 10 years in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS) and to evaluate the extent to which racial differences in blood pressure are explained by other factors, including sexual maturation and body size. METHODS: The NGHS enrolled 539 black and 616 white girls aged 9 years, and 674 black and 550 white girls aged 10 years. Racial differences in blood pressure were examined. Relationships of stage of sexual maturation, height, and skinfold thickness with systolic and diastolic blood pressure were evaluated by multiple regression analysis. RESULTS: The black girls had significantly higher systolic (102.0 ± 8.90 vs 100.5 ± 9.42 mm Hg, p <0.001) and diastolic (58.0 ± 12.0 vs 56.5 ± 12.51 mm Hg, p <0.01) blood pressures than the white girls. The black girls were also more advanced in sexual maturation and were taller (142.9 ± 7.94 vs 139.6 ± 7.05, p <0.001) and heavier (39.6 ± 11.24 vs 35.3 ± 8.73 kg, p <0.001) than the white girls. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were significantly correlated with level of maturation, height, weight, and sum of skinfolds. Stage of maturation was found to account for the difference in blood pressure between black girls and white girls. In a multiple regression analysis, controlling for height (for diastolic blood pressure) and for both height and sum of skinfolds (for systolic blood pressure) eliminated the effects of race and stage of maturation on blood pressure. CONCLUSION: Racial differences in blood pressure were observed for 9- and 10-year-old girls and are explained by the fact that black girls were more mature than white girls. The effect of sexual maturation on blood pressure appears to operate through height and body fat. The effect of obesity may be more important for systolic than for diastolic blood pressure. Continuation of racial differences in blood pressure may result in a higher prevalence of hypertension for black women. (J P EDIATR 1996;129:208-13)
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