A new national study from US researchers suggests that children who undergo solid organ transplants are at higher risk of developing advanced kidney disease.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania say their findings emphasize the importance of continued kidney screening in pediatric transplant patients.

The researchers used data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, analyzing the records of 16,604 children in the US between 1990 to 2010 who received solid-organ transplants (liver, heart, lung, intestine and heart-lung). All participants were followed for an average of 6.2 years.

According to the researchers, this was the first pediatric study comparing the relative incidence of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) by type of organ transplant, and the first to analyze the risk of advance kidney disease among pediatric solid-organ recipients over a 20-year period.

Results of the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that 426 (3%) children who underwent solid-organ transplants had higher risk of developing end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).

The highest risk was apparent in children who underwent intestinal or lung transplants, with a hazard ratio of 7.37 and 5.79 per 1,000 person-years respectively, while the lowest risk of ESKD was for children who received liver transplants.

The researchers note that, by contrast, liver transplants in adults are linked to the highest risk of ESKD, while adult lung transplants pose the lowest risk.

Rebecca L. Ruebner, pediatric nephrologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and study author, says:

We found that the risk patterns for kidney disease are different among patients who receive solid-organ transplants as children, compared to adult transplant recipients.

Because chronic and end-stage kidney disease carry high burdens of mortality and serious illness, it is important to take preventive measures to slow or prevent disease progression.”

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, last year 1,077 US children aged between 1- and 10-years-old received organ transplants.

Dr. Ruebner notes that although the overall incidence of ESKD was only 3% in pediatric solid-organ transplant recipients, the burden of chronic kidney disease is much higher.

“Children with chronic kidney disease experience a steady decline in kidney function,” she adds, “so we recommend that pediatric healthcare providers carefully follow post-transplant patients to detect any early signs of kidney problems, with early referral, if necessary, to a pediatric nephrologist.”

Medical News Today recently reported on the creation of an artificial kidney, which could help patients suffering from chronic renal failure.