Background: Although many case reports describe manifestations of autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) in children, no longitudinal studies have examined the natural progression or risk factors for more rapid progression in a large number of children from ADPKD families.
Methods: Since 1985, we have studied 312 children from 131 families with a history, a physical examination, blood and urine chemistries, an abdominal ultrasonography, and gene linkage analysis. One hundred fifteen of 185 affected children were studied multiple times for up to 15 years. Renal volumes were determined by ultrasound imaging. Graphs of mean renal volumes according to age were compared between affected and unaffected children, ADPKD children with and without early severe disease, and children with and without high blood pressure.
Results: Affected children had faster renal growth than unaffected children. ADPKD children with severe renal enlargement at a young age continued to experience faster renal growth than those with mild enlargement or normal kidney size for their age, and affected children with high blood pressure had faster renal growth than those with lower blood pressure. Glomerular filtration rate did not decrease in any children except for two with unusually severe early onset disease.
Conclusions: The progression of ADPKD clearly occurs in childhood and manifests as an increase in cyst number and renal size. This study identifies children at risk for rapid renal enlargement who may benefit the most from future therapeutic interventions.