Tracking of Blood Lipids and Blood Pressures in School Age Children: The Muscatine Study

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SUMMARY In four cross sectional school screens, the Muscatine Study has sampled 8,909 school children; 820 have been studied repeatedly over a six-year period. Tracking of measurements described by the relationship between repeated observations and the relationship between peer rank orderings over the six-year period has been studied. For height and weight, correlations between observations six years apart were approximately 0.74 and about 60% of children initially in the upper quintile were there again six years later. Six-year correlations were 0.65 for skinfold and 0.61 for cholesterol. Four-year correlation for fasting triglyceride was 0.40. Six-year correlations were 0.30 for casual systolic blood pressure and 0.18 for diastolic blood pressure. Peer rank orderings for both blood pressures were highly variable.

Height and weight track well, and thus routine measurement of these variables are useful in identifying children with growth perturbing disorders. Cholesterol and, to a lesser degree, triglycerides also track, and a significant proportion of children with initially high values demonstrated consistently high values throughout the study period. Blood pressures do not track as well; consistently high blood pressures are unusual, thus indicating the need for repeated blood pressure measurements to identify children with persistent elevated levels. The future significance of transient blood pressure elevations has yet to be established.

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