Kidney growth in small-for-gestational-age infants: Evidence of early accelerated renal growth

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2006 Dec;21(12):3422-7. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfl466. Epub 2006 Aug 25.


Background: Very few data are available on longitudinal renal growth in small for gestational age (SGA) infants born at term. The aim of this prospective study was to estimate comparatively the renal growth in SGA infants and in infants born appropriate for gestational age (AGA) during the first 2 years of life.

Methods: The study comprised groups of SGA and AGA infants with a gestational age (GA) of 36-41 weeks. The SGA group was classified into two subgroups of symmetrical and asymmetrical neonates according to the ponderal index. Serial renal ultrasonography (US) was performed at the ages of 41 weeks corrected age [GA (in weeks) plus age after birth (in weeks)] and at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months of chronological age and kidney length (KL) was related to other anthropometric indices.

Results: A total of 312 infants participated in the study out of which 197 were SGA, and a total number of 802 measurements were performed. The symmetrical SGA infants and, to a lesser degree, the asymmetrical SGA infants had smaller kidneys at birth compared with the AGA infants (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.001, respectively). The symmetrical SGA infants had a lower body weight (BW) (P < 0.001, P < 0.01) and crown-heel length (CHL) (P < 0.01, P < 0.05) than controls at the ages of 12 and 24 months of chronological age. The asymmetrical SGA infants had a lower BW (P < 0.01, P < 0.05) than controls at the ages of 12 and 24 months of chronological age. On the contrary, the KL in both SGA groups was not different from that of the AGA infants after the 41st week of corrected age and up to the 2nd year of life.

Conclusion: SGA term infants had shorter KL at birth compared with AGA infants but a similar length from the 3rd to the 24th month of life. Early catch-up kidney growth was observed in both SGA groups and is more prominent in the symmetrical SGA infants. This observation may represent either an accelerated renal maturation process or early compensatory kidney hypertrophy in this group of infants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development*
  • Kidney / growth & development*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors