Certain prenatal risk factors are associated with the development of chronic kidney disease in children, according to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). Future studies should investigate whether modifying these factors could help protect children’s kidney health, the study authors said.

Christine Hsu, MD, from the University of Washington and her colleagues sought to determine the association of childhood CKD with prenatal risk factors, including birth weight, maternal diabetes, and maternal overweight/obesity.

The researchers studied 1,994 patients with childhood CKD and 20,032 controls without the disease and linked maternal and infant characteristics in birth records from 1987 to 2008 to hospital discharge data.

The prevalence of CKD was 126.7 cases per 100,000 births. Infants with low birth weight were nearly three times more likely to develop childhood CKD than infants with normal birth weight. Infants were also at increased risk if their mothers developed diabetes during pregnancy or if their mothers were overweight or obese.

“We hope this research leads to further research on ways to reduce kidney disease through either early treatment or prevention that might begin even before birth,” said Hsu. “Previous studies show that strict control of maternal diabetes significantly reduces the risk of congenital malformations in children. We hope our work leads to future studies to investigate whether strict control of maternal diabetes and/or reducing maternal obesity/overweight reduces childhood CKD.”

The article, entitled “Prenatal Risk Factors for Childhood CKD,” appears online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org.