Poor maternal and child health linked with premature high blood pressure, kidney disease

June 19, 2013 by Raquel Maurier, University of Alberta

(Medical Xpress)—How babies grow and develop in the womb, as newborns and into childhood can put them at increased risk for premature high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart disease, according to a research review led by a University of Alberta medical researcher.

Valerie Luyckx, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, took the lead on the international collaborative review. The study highlighted the increased risk later in life of premature hypertension and chronic among premature and high- or low-birth-weight , children who experience rapid weight gain after the first year of life, obese children, and babies born to mothers with poor nutrition, gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

"When babies don't grow well in utero, they are at increased risk of premature kidney and cardiovascular disease for the rest of their lives," says Luyckx.

"The bottom line is if a baby is not growing well during pregnancy—which most of the time is due to mothers being malnourished or not receiving proper care during pregnancy—the baby can be born premature or very small and may have small kidneys. Such small kidneys contain fewer filtering units (nephrons), which makes the person prone to higher , and the kidneys are less able to withstand additional stresses over time. Having puts a person at much higher risk of kidney disease, and kidney disease is also intricately linked to . If a mother has diabetes, the baby can be born very large, and this also appears to increase risk of kidney disease in later life."

Worldwide, 15 per cent of babies are born with low birth weight, and 9.6 per cent of are premature, which means the number of people at future risk for chronic disease in adulthood is high. Low-birth-weight and premature children who gain weight rapidly tend to become overweight, which further increases their risk for premature hypertension and kidney disease as adults. Childhood obesity also triggers the same risk factors, so the importance of early childhood nutrition can't be underestimated, says Luyckx.

"Chronic diseases are becoming a global epidemic. Hypertension is considered a leading risk factor for disease worldwide, causing a bigger burden of disease around the globe than infectious diseases. The maternal and early childhood risk factors noted in the research, which may at least in part be amenable to public health interventions, are extremely important and something we need to be aware of now. If we focus on improving maternal and fetal health and childhood nutrition now, in 40 to 50 years there could be a major positive public health impact by decreasing the number of people who develop kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

"These diseases are costly to health systems in developed countries, but are death sentences in lower- and middle-income countries around the world."

Luyckx, who works in the Division of Nephrology & Transplant Immunology within the Department of Medicine, says many countries have already rallied support around reducing maternal mortality rates and improving the quality of care women receive during childbirth and delivery as part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. But she adds that many are still falling short of their targets, and that a more focused effort on early childhood health requires learning even more about the importance of healthy diets and exercise in all areas of the world where childhood obesity rates are soaring.

The study was part of a five-paper series published in The Lancet, focusing on kidney disease around the world. The publication coincided with the World Congress of Nephrology held in Hong Kong in early June, with the aim of raising global awareness of kidney disease.

Explore further: Good kidney health begins before birth

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (13)60311-6/abstract

Related Stories

Good kidney health begins before birth

May 30, 2013
Researchers have found that conditions in the womb can affect kidney development and have serious health implications for the child not only immediately after birth, but decades later.

Nearly half of all child deaths caused by malnutrition

June 5, 2013
Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half (45 percent) of all deaths in children under five, according to new research published as part of The Lancet Series on maternal and child nutrition. The results show that malnutrition ...

Kidney disease in Canada: 12.5 percent of adults afflicted, yet many unaware

May 6, 2013
An estimated 12.5% of Canadians in Canada have evidence of chronic kidney disease, including people without risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, according to a study published in CMAJ.

Research reprograms future of kidney health

June 14, 2013
University of Queensland researchers have reprogrammed adult kidney cells to act as stem cells to repair damaged kidneys.

Kidney disease accounts for most of the increased risk of dying early among diabetics

January 24, 2013
One in every 10 Americans has diabetes, and a third or more of those with the condition will develop kidney disease. It may be possible to live a long and healthy life with diabetes, but once kidney disease develops, the ...

Nutrition during first 1,000 days of life crucial for childhood and economic development

June 5, 2013
A new Lancet series on maternal and childhood nutrition finds that over 3 million children die every year of malnutrition—accounting for nearly half of all child deaths under 5. Along with state-of-the-art global estimates ...

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.