Pregnancy in chronic renal insufficiency and end-stage renal disease

Am J Kidney Dis. 1999 Feb;33(2):235-52. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(99)70296-9.


Childbearing is important to women with renal disease, but pregnancy has generally been regarded as very high risk in these women. In this review, an attempt is made to clarify the nature and severity of those risks in the settings of chronic renal insufficiency and end-stage renal disease, including dialysis patients and transplant recipients. Hypertension is the most common life-threatening problem in all three groups. A wide range of antihypertensive medications have been used, with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors the only drugs absolutely contraindicated because of their association with neonatal anuria, pulmonary hypoplasia, and neonatal death. Women with serum creatinine levels of 1.4 mg/dL or greater are at risk for accelerated loss of renal function compared with women who don't become pregnant. Transplant recipients have a risk for loss of renal function similar to controls as long as renal function is well preserved. The frequency of conception is decreased in women with renal insufficiency and markedly decreased in dialysis patients (0.5% per year). Return of fertility is the rule in transplant recipients. Exposure to immunosuppressive drugs, including prednisone, azathioprine, cyclosporine, and tacrolimus, has not been associated with an increase in congenital anomalies. These drugs, particularly cyclosporine, have been associated with small-for-gestational-age babies. Transplant recipients are at risk for infections that have implications for the fetus, including cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and toxoplasmosis. All groups have an increased risk for prematurity and intrauterine growth restriction. The percentage of pregnancies resulting in surviving infants in women with renal insufficiency and transplant recipients ranges from 70% to 100%. For women who conceive after starting dialysis, the likelihood of a surviving infant is approximately 50%.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Renovascular / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Renovascular / therapy
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / therapy
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications* / therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / therapy
  • Renal Dialysis


  • Immunosuppressive Agents