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Low birth weight may be linked to kidney disease

A baby’s weight may be connected to kidney disease later in life, a new study shows.  Newborns that weigh less than 5.5 pounds are 70% more likely to have chronic kidney disease, an illness that effects about 26 million adults in the U.S.

“Experimental studies suggest that restricted growth of a fetus in the womb can interfere with normal kidney development and result in fewer and smaller filtering units, or nephrons, at birth,” says the study’s lead author, Sarah L. White, MPH of the George Institute and the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. “Those with low birth weight may therefore be vulnerable to accelerated loss of kidney function later on as a result of any additional injuries to the kidney caused, for example, by accidents, infections or the presence of other risk factors such as diabetes.”

While low birth weight cannot be avoided in some cases, doctors say there are steps parents with a preemie should take to curb the chances of kidney problems in the future.

“People who were very small at birth should avoid obesity that could lead to diabetes, maintain regular physical activity, avoid medications that could be toxic for the kidneys and see their doctors for simple assessment of chronic kidney disease including blood pressure measurement, a dipstick test for urinary protein and a blood test of serum creatinine level,” continues White.

The research was published in American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation.

About Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Each year, more than 87,000 Americans die from causes related to kidney failure.
  • Of the more than 105,000 Americans currently awaiting organ transplants, 83,000 are waiting for a kidney.
  • Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure in the U.S. Along with high blood pressure, these two major risk factors account for nearly 85% of new cases of kidney disease.
  • Stats from National Kidney Foundation