Pediatricians in Central Valley say more children being diagnosed with adult illnesses

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Joel and Joshua Alvarado get their blood pressure checked at a specialists office. The brothers are monitored for high blood pressure a condition you don't normally associate with children.

"If like a doctor tells me you're overweight I've got to think about that and I've got to work on myself, I've got to play sports, eat healthier," said Joel Alvarado, patient.

Fresno pediatrician Dr. Tanya Bryant said roughly 25-percent of her young patients have serious conditions mostly associated with adults.

"We are seeing a lot of patients that do have hypertension, elevated blood pressure, elevated levels of cholesterol, of course as well and also pre-diabetes and diabetes."

Doctors said unhealthy choices are major factors of the diagnosis. Eating foods high in salt or sugar and drinking soda instead of water can have lasting effects on children.

"Studies have shown children who have hypertension as children usually will go on to have it as an adult. So we really do want to make a difference at this point and turn it around," said Dr. Bryant.

The issues transfer to local school districts who are often advised by the doctors of the diagnosed students to keep an eye on the child's health during class or recess.

"We may not necessarily be giving the medication for the blood pressure at school but they want to see, they want to trend with blood pressure so they'll send us an order and we'll monitor blood pressure every day at a certain time," said Gail Williams, Fresno Unified School District.

Williams said the district then provides the information to parents and doctors to help monitor the students' condition.

"They're developing diseases they shouldn't be developing when they're 10, 11, 12-years-old."

A diagnosis of high blood pressure or high cholesterol in children does not have to be the end of the world. Making changes like getting some exercise on the playground or drinking more water can keep kids healthier.

To battle, what officials said was, a nearly 40-percent obesity rate here in the Central Valley the district has partnered with community organizations to provide free farmers markets at some school sites. Hoping to provide more access to fresh fruits and vegetables for families.

"We have a lot of what we call food deserts in our city and in surrounding areas where there's not a full supermarket close by, so they do their shopping at the mini mart down the street," said Williams.

Health officials said, though they are diagnosing more children with adult illnesses, the outlook is much better than it used to be because of evolving medications. Though, Dr. Bryant said some of them still need to be formulated with children in mind.

"Many of the medications that are being developed just don't have all the time the indications for the youngest of the ages."

The priority for healthcare providers when treating children with high blood pressure or cholesterol is encouraging them to be kids. Enjoy their childhood, get outside and play to avoid a life full of medications and health setbacks.
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