To be honest the idea about this article started with our cat. He is 21 and has to have his blood pressure taken. They take it on his tail (which goes over like a lead balloon). It made me wonder about our children. At what age should we start testing and are there conditions that make it even more imperative?

Age : The chart I found on complexchild.com actually starts with premature babies. It lasts by age until twelve. While a child's blood pressure may not be taken every visit it might be wise to ask each time so that both you and the doctor have a baseline. It recommends the doctor due to difficulty in getting the right size equipment for each size change in a child.

Weight : Overweight children are at higher risk for this problem than normal. This can cause damage to blood vessels and the kidneys. If the child is overweight or obese it is important to have regular checksups. Depending on the conditions it might be a once-a-month nurse visit or just on semi-annual physicals.

Family History : This is where the baseline readings come in handy. If either parent (or both) has a family history of hypertension it's important to start checking young. This is not necessarily because the child may develop the problem in childhood. It will get the child into the habit of being checked and earlier detection more likely.

Teen Pregnancy : This is true in all pregnancies. There are problems that can occur in pregnancy that raise rates. These problems can kill both mother and child if not handled as soon as possible. Talk to the obstetrician about these conditions and ask if home monitoring would be wise.

Our children need many of the same routine tests we adults require. If this is not a regular part of your child's checkup, whether from an illness or just a physical, ask the doctor to take the reading.