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Low Blood Pressure In Children: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment

Did you know children can suffer from low blood pressure like adults? Know causes, symptoms and management tips from doctor.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: May 02, 2022Updated at: May 02, 2022
Low Blood Pressure In Children: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment

Low blood pressure is when a person’s BP lowers than the normal range. Sometimes this is momentary but if it happens frequently, one should consult a doctor. While adults can easily identify fluctuations in blood pressure through symptoms, children cannot. Not many parents know that low BP in children or paediatric low blood pressure exists. Kids, not knowing what’s happening, can panic and so, it is very important for parents to monitor low BP signs and symptoms in children. This month’s focus of the month category on onlymyhealth is ‘Hypertension’. We will bring as many stories on hypertension as possible to create awareness. Scroll down to read about low blood pressure in children

What is Pediatric Low Blood Pressure?

According to Dr. Suresh Kumar Panuganti, Lead Consultant - Pediatric Critical Care and Pediatric, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, Hypotension or low blood pressure is not an uncommon finding in children especially adolescent age groups (10 to 20 years of age). 

Low blood pressure or hypotension in children is caused due to several reasons. Also, the normal blood pressure range in children vary and so, it would not be right the actual numbers. It is better to consult a paediatrician to diagnose hypotension in children. The normal blood pressure ranges between 90/60(systolic pressure) and 130/80(diastolic pressure).

  • For the uninitiated, systolic pressure is the pressure of blood in the arteries during heart muscle contraction.
  • Diastolic pressure, on the other hand, is the blood pressure in arteries when heart beats.

Blood Pressure Chart for Children

Parents must refer to this blood pressure range chart for children. If they see a frequent fall in blood pressure range, consult a paediatrician immediately.

Pediatric Low Blood Pressure

Infant(1-12 months)

  • Systolic-72 -104
  • Diastolic- 37-56

Toddler (1-3 years)

  • Systolic- 85-106
  • Diastolic- 42-58

Preschooler(3-5 years)

  • Systolic- 90-110
  • Diastolic- 48-70

School Going(6-12 years)

  • Systolic- 93-120
  • Diastolic- 60-78

What are the signs of low BP in children?

Here are potential signs and symptoms of low blood pressure in children that parents should watch out:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Confusion
  • Fearing heights
  • Sudden cold and clammy extremities
  • Sometimes the child can lose consciousness

What Causes Pediatric Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension In Children?

There are some situations or reasons that increase the risk of low blood pressure in children. It is important to keep a tab on your child to avert the risks. Here are the common low bp in child causes:

  • Dehydration
  • Infection
  • Heart condition(s)
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Severe allergic reaction like Anaphylaxis 
  • Taking anxiety medicines or painkillers frequently
  • Some medical conditions that can cause hypotension include endocrine problems, heart conditions including rhythm disturbances and loss of blood due to trauma.
  • Some young children and adults can have hypotension due to sudden change in position called postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension.
  • Young adolescent girls commonly experience low blood pressure episodes especially during menstruation.

Most of these symptoms are because of reduced blood supply to brain. In young infants and children, low blood pressure can become life threatening requiring hospitalization and intensive care support. Hypotension usually has more adverse effects than mild hypertension.

Also Read: Here Are 5 Effective Diet Alterations Keep Blood Pressure Levels In Check

Pediatric Low Blood Pressure Types

Did you know there are different types of low blood pressure or hypotension condition. But in children, hypotension is classified into three types:

Pediatric Low Blood Pressure

  • Neurally mediated hypotension- This is the most common low blood pressure type that occurs in children. Mostly, this is caused due to standing for a prolonged period.
  • Orthostatic hypotension- This is caused due to sudden position change. For example, if a child gets up suddenly or sit abruptly, he/she may experience a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is temporary and shall be normal in some time.
  • Severe hypotension- This is severe low pressure condition caused due to the extreme blood loss, allergic reaction, infection, traumatic injury, etc. This can be life-threatening.

How To Manage Children With Low Blood Pressure?

Immediate management options of hypotension include:

  • Making the child lying down with head low position (to increase the blood supply to the brain)
  • Avoiding overcrowding around the child
  • If child is conscious, one should attempt to give some fluids, (preferably salt containing solutions like oral rehydration solution (ORS))
  • If a given child is diabetic and develops hypotension, consider checking blood glucose and immediately give some sugar containing solution.
  • A child with postural hypotension should be advised not to change the position (sitting to standing) suddenly and advised to count 1 to 10 before change of position.

Life style changes, regular food habits, good hydration, avoiding exposure to excessive heat, even for shorter duration, avoiding over the counter medications and regular health check-ups for those with medical problems would help in avoiding complications due to hypotension.

Image credits- freepik