Low birth weight, nephron number and chronic kidney disease

Published: 28 November 2022
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Chronic kidney diseases have a significant impact on morbidity and mortality worldwide. Low birth weight, fetal growth restriction and prematurity are indicators of fetal growth and development disorders associated with a congenital reduction in nephron number, which predisposes to an increased risk for chronic kidney disease. On an individual basis, a small nephron number at birth is not always enough to determine the onset of chronic kidney disease, but it decreases the ability of the kidneys to resist any insults to renal tissue that may occur later in life, such as exposure to nephrotoxic drugs or episodes of acute kidney injury. The high incidence of low birth weight and preterm birth globally suggests that, at the population level, the impact of alterations in fetal development on the subsequent onset of chronic kidney disease could be significant. The implementation of strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of prematurity, fetal growth restriction, as well as other conditions that lead to low birth weight and a reduced nephron number at birth, provides an opportunity to prevent the development of chronic kidney disease in adulthood. For these purposes the coordinated intervention of several specialists, including obstetricians, gynecologists, neonatologists, nephrologists, and family doctors, is necessary. Such strategies can be particularly useful in resource-poor countries, which are simultaneously burdened by maternal, fetal and child malnutrition; poor health; epidemics caused by communicable diseases; and little access to screening and primary care.



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How to Cite

Manfellotto, D., Cortinovis, M., Perico, N., & Remuzzi, G. (2022). Low birth weight, nephron number and chronic kidney disease. Italian Journal of Medicine, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/itjm.2022.1538