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Growth in children with chronic kidney disease: role of nutrition, growth hormone, dialysis, and steroids

Ingulli, Elizabeth G.; Mak, Robert H.

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 187–192
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000070
NEPHROLOGY: Edited by Michel Baum

Purpose of review Children with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have impaired growth that leads to short stature in adulthood. The problem persists even with successful transplantation and steroid withdrawal protocols. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the pressing issues related to growth failure in children with CKD both before and after transplantation.

Recent findings Although great strides have been made in dialysis and transplantation, the incidence of abnormal adult height in children growing up with CKD remains as high as 45–60%. The lack of catch-up growth and resultant short stature is a critical issue for self-esteem and quality of life in many children with CKD. Aggressive daily dialysis, improved nutrition, treatment of metabolic bone disease, and the use of recombinant human growth hormone provide some hope for catch-up growth in select patients.

Summary The causes of growth failure in the setting of CKD are multifactorial. Attention to all the details by optimizing nutritional, bone and mineral metabolism, correcting metabolic acidosis and anemia, achieving excellent blood pressure control, reversing cardiovascular complications such as left ventricular hypertrophy, and minimizing the use of corticosteroids is the current standard of care. Aggressive daily dialysis can reverse many of the uremic derangements. For patients not yet on dialysis or for those after renal transplant, early institution of recombinant human growth hormone can promote growth. Improved understanding of the mechanisms of hormone resistance may offer novel targets or measurements of treatment effectiveness.

Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Correspondence to Robert H. Mak, MD, PhD, Division of Pediatric Nephrology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC0634, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. Tel: +1 858 822 6717; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins