Objective: Medical and technical advances make it possible to treat young children with end-stage renal disease with far-reaching methods such as continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and haemodialysis (HD). We investigated whether chronic renal failure has deleterious effects on motor function and cognitive development.
Setting: The pediatric dialysis centres of the university hospitals of Nijmegen, Utrecht and Rotterdam.
Design: Prospective study.
Methods: 18 patients (mean age 37 months) with chronic renal failure since infancy and 18 healthy children (mean age 35 months) as controls were assessed on cognitive and behavioural parameters. Nine patients and 17 control subjects were tested on their motor function.
Results: A significant delay (more than one SD) was found in the motor as well as in the cognitive development of the patient group. Within this group a large difference was noticed between patients under conservative treatment (n = 8; mean dev. index 92.0) and those under CAPD or HD treatment (n = 10; mean dev. index 72.4).
Conclusion: Young dialysis patients are evidently at risk for developmental retardation. Monitoring this vulnerable group by developmental screening and intensive counselling of the parents is strongly recommended.