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Nephrocalcinosis in preterm babies


OBJECTIVES To determine prospectively the incidence and cause of nephrocalcinosis in preterm infants.

STUDY DESIGN Inborn babies of gestation less than 32 weeks or birth weight less than 1500 g were eligible to be entered into a prospective observational study. Two renal ultrasound scans were performed, the first at 1 month postnatal age and the second at term or discharge. Data were collected on gestation, birth weight, sex, race, family history of renal calculi, oliguria on first day, respiratory support (ventilation, steroid, and oxygen dependency), and use of nephrotoxic drugs (gentamicin, vancomycin, and frusemide). Intake of fluid, calcium, and phosphate and plasma urea, creatinine, calcium, and phosphate were recorded for the first 6 weeks of life. Random urinary calcium/creatinine, oxalate/creatinine, and urate/creatinine ratios and tubular absorption of phosphate were measured once at term.

RESULTS A total of 101 preterm infants were studied. Twenty three (23%) had abnormal ultrasound scans. Sixteen (16%) had nephrocalcinosis. On univariate analysis, gestational age, male sex, duration of ventilation, oxygen dependency, duration and frequency of gentamicin treatment, toxic gentamicin/vancomycin levels, and postnatal dexamethasone were significantly associated with nephrocalcinosis. In addition, babies with nephrocalcinosis had a lower intake of fluid, calcium, and phosphate, longer duration of total parenteral nutrition, and higher urinary oxalate/creatinine and urate/creatinine ratios than infants who did not have the condition. There was also a significant association with plasma urea and creatinine but not with plasma calcium or phosphate or urinary calcium. Multivariate analysis showed that the strongest predictors of nephrocalcinosis were duration of ventilation, toxic gentamicin/vancomycin levels, low fluid intake, and male sex.

CONCLUSION 16% of babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation developed nephrocalcinosis. The multifactorial origin, in particular, the association with extreme prematurity and severity of respiratory disease, is confirmed. In addition, an association with male sex, frequency and duration of gentamicin use, and high urinary oxalate and urate excretion is shown.

  • nephrocalcinosis
  • renal dysfunction
  • calcium
  • kidney

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