Prevalence and factors associated with hypertension in primary school children, in the centre region of Cameroon

David Chelo, Evelyn M. Mah, Edmond N. Chiabi, Andreas Chiabi, Paul Olivier Koki Ndombo, Samuel Kingue, Marie Therese Obama


Background: There has been a progressive increase in hypertension among children and adolescents over the years. Hypertension in childhood is influenced by various risk factors including; childhood obesity, lifestyle and hereditary factors. This study is aimed at assessing the prevalence of hypertension and elevated blood pressure (BP); as well as the associated factors to hypertension among primary school children in a rural setting in the, Centre Region of Cameroon.
Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out from November 2017 to May 2018 in 13 primary schools in Mbankomo subdivision. A two staged cluster sampling technique was used to select participants: the first stage we conveniently selected 13 out of 71 (18%) primary schools in the study area by probability proportionate to size since the subdivision does not have an equal number of primary schools in the rural and semi-urban areas. In the second stage, we also used probability proportional to size to randomly select participants from the 13 clusters because the classes did not have equal number of students. We randomly selected 13% pupils enrolled in each class of the 13 schools. BP and anthropometric measurements were taken, together with socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle and past history.
Results: The overall prevalence of hypertension among the 822 pupils sampled was 1.6% (with 1.5% in stage I and 0.1% in stage II) and that of elevated BP was 8.1%, with a systolic predominance of 1.6%. SBP and DBP had a significant positive correlation with age (r=0.17; P=0.000 and r=0.07; P=0.000 respectively) and BMI (r=0.18; P=0.000 and r=0.11; P=0.000 respectively). The associated risk factors for hypertension were: the pupil’s age >10 years (95% CI: 1.2581–33.1841; P=0.0254), family history of overweight (95% CI: 1.6906–32.9401; P=0.008), and excess weight (95% CI: 2.5094–40.7063; P=0.0011), and being born at term (P=0.0004) as a protecting factor.
Conclusions: This study revealed a high prevalence of hypertension among primary school children in rural areas, with a number of preventable risk factors. Considering the risk factors found, children should be educated on proper nutrition, and the need for physical exercises at home and in school to avoid overweight and obesity.