Dr. Chi Le-Ha of the Royal Perth Hospital in Australia used data from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Raine Study, in which the 2,868 live births of 2,900 pregnant women enrolled in 1989 in Perth were followed up at ages 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17.
At that time the study subjects were asked about lifestyle factors including alcohol, smoking, physical activity, prescription medications -- including the use of oral contraceptives -- and dietary patterns.
Le-Ha and colleagues found boys had an overall systolic blood pressure 9 millimeter of mercury higher than girls not taking an oral contraceptive. Among the boys, systolic blood pressure was significantly associated with body mass index urinary sodium -- a marker of salt intake -- and alcohol consumption. Even when adjusted for Body Mass Index, the link with alcohol and salt remained, the study said.
Using adult blood pressure definition criteria, approximately 24 percent of the adolescents were pre-hypertensive or hypertensive; 34 percent of the overweight and 38 percent of the obese teens were in these high blood pressure categories, the researchers said.
Blood pressure in girls was not affected by alcohol consumption, but the use of birth control pills was significantly associated with raised blood pressure in girls.
The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.