Low Birth Weight Could be Related to High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease Later in Life
Researchers have recently reported that our kidney’s good health started in the body of the mother and the conditions at that time and at the time of birth could affect our kidney’s development and health even after decades of our life.
Researchers, including Monash University's Professor John Bertram, who is researching on nephrons for about two decades, and the University of Queensland's Professor Wendy Hoy, studied and reviewed the researches on kidney health and the effects of the in utero conditions on adult health.
Researchers found that low birth weight and prematurity are related to the decreased kidney’s filtration units or nephrons, which cause filtration and excretion of waste materials from the blood and produce urine. These conditions increase the chances of high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease later in life.
"The kidney is particularly sensitive to life before birth because we stop making nephrons at 36 weeks gestation. So, for a baby born at term, the process of nephron formation is finished and it cannot be restarted," Professor Bertram said in a statement.
On average, one million nephrons, ranging from over 200,000 to around two million, are present in humans at the time of birth and the number of nephrons starts decreasing at the rate of 6000 nephrons per year. Moreover, babies with low birth weight have lesser number of nephrons while larger babies have a higher number of nephrons.
"Although a newborn may appear perfect, if their birth weight is low, there may be consequences 40 years down the line. We could be proactive about detecting these diseases in the early stages," Professor Bertram said.
The Lancet published (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60311-6) this research on May 31st.
Source: Monash University
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