1. The magnitude and time course of circulatory adaptation to active standing were investigated in healthy premenarchic girls and boys (n = 24; 10–14 years old) by non-invasive measurement of heart rate and continuous finger blood pressure (Finapres).
2. Four subjects (two girls, two boys) showed presyncopal symptoms after 4–9 min of free standing.
3. In the 20 non-fainting subjects, changes in blood pressure and heart rate upon standing did not differ between girls (n = 10) and boys (n = 10). In the initial phase of standing (first 30 s) systolic and diastolic blood pressures dropped by 22 ± 14 (mean ± sd) and 16 ± 7 mmHg, respectively, at 8 ± 2 s. Blood pressure subsequently recovered and showed an overshoot in all subjects. The transient drop in blood pressure was accompanied by an increase in heart rate of 40 ± 7 beats/min. These characteristic transient changes were not observed with passive head-up tilt. During the early steady-state phase (2 min), systolic blood pressure was similar to the supine value and diastolic blood pressure rose by 11 ± 5 mmHg. Heart rate increased by 25 ± 11 beats/min. In six of the subjects (three girls, three boys) the increase in heart rate exceeded 30 beats/min (postural tachycardia). Little further changes were observed during prolonged (10 min) standing.
4. Typical findings in the four near-fainting subjects were higher supine heart rates, no blood pressure overshoot in the initial phase (in three out of four subjects), postural tachycardia in the early steady-state phase and progressive decreases in blood pressure and heart rate afterwards.
5. In conclusion, for investigation of orthostatic circulatory adaptation in childhood it is important to pay attention to the dynamics of the circulatory response. No important differences appear to exist in orthostatic circulatory control between premenarchic girls and boys: orthostatic tachycardia and fainting appear to be common in both.