The Leumit Health Fund has decided to administer blood pressure tests for children. The tests will be administered to all children whose families are members of the fund, at ages three, six and 16. Leumit is the first of the four health funds in Israel to offer this service.
The decision comes in the wake of a recommendation by the American Pediatric Society to examine children for hypertension and related maladies. Hypertension has been shown to be a factor in heart problems, and research has shown that children can suffer from hypertension as well. With obesity levels rising in recent years, pediatric hypertension has become more common, and doctors have begun recommending that children undergo regular screening for the disease.
Other countries have already begun acting on the recommendations, but although the Health Ministry considered the idea as well, it decided to hold off. Other health funds are not preparing to institute the checkups either. Speaking to Yediot Aharonot, an official of the Maccabee Health Fund said that the methods in use today to examine hypertension in children were not accurate, and there was a high risk of misdiagnosis.
A spokesperson for the Clalit Health Fund said that the fund had already several months ago instituted a policy where at-risk children, such as those suffering from obesity, would undergo hypertension examinations.