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Hypertension. 2006 Nov;48(5):861-9. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Importance of salt in determining blood pressure in children: meta-analysis of controlled trials.

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  • 1Blood Pressure Unit, Cardiac and Vascular Sciences, St George's University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London, SW17 0RE, United Kingdom.


To assess the effect of reducing salt intake on blood pressure in children, we carried out a meta-analysis of controlled trials. Trials were included if participants were children (< or = 18 years), and duration of salt reduction must have been for > or = 2 weeks. Mean effect size was calculated using a fixed-effect model, because there was no significant heterogeneity. Ten trials of children and adolescents with 966 participants were included (median age: 13 years; range: 8 to 16 years; median duration: 4 weeks; range: 2 weeks to 3 years). Salt intake was reduced by 42% (interquartile range [IQR]: 7% to 58%). There were significant reductions in blood pressure: systolic: -1.17 mm Hg (95% CI: -1.78 to -0.56 mm Hg; P<0.001); diastolic: -1.29 mm Hg (95% CI: -1.94 to -0.65 mm Hg; P<0.0001). Three trials of infants with 551 participants were included (median duration: 20 weeks; range: 8 weeks to 6 months). Salt intake was reduced by 54% (IQR: 51% to 79%). There was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure: -2.47 mm Hg (95% CI: -4.00 to -0.94 mm Hg; P<0.01). This is the first meta-analysis of salt reduction in children, and it demonstrates that a modest reduction in salt intake causes immediate falls in blood pressure and, if continued, may well lessen the subsequent rise in blood pressure with age. This would result in major reductions in cardiovascular disease. These results in conjunction with other evidence provide strong support for a reduction in salt intake in children.

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