Postnatal development of renal function during the first year of life

Pediatr Nephrol. 1987 Jul;1(3):308-13. doi: 10.1007/BF00849229.


Several aspects of renal function vary considerably during the 1st year of life and differ markedly from the equivalent values in the adult. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) increases little, prior to the time an infant reaches a conceptional age of 34 weeks, the point in renal development from which the absolute GFR (ml/min) increases gradually to mature values when linear growth is completed during adolescence. GFR corrected for body size is not comparable with adult normal values until after 12 months of age; therefore, whether GFR is estimated from Scr or measured by timed urine collection, there is no easily recalled range of normal values for infants. One must know the changes in the renal function of normal infants that take place following birth during the 1st year of life. Despite several attempts to do so, renal function during the 1st year of life cannot be assessed from urine flow rate. A urine flow rate of less than 1 ml/kg per hour may be normal and appropriate and may not be harmful either to preterm or full-term infants with normal GFR. Impaired concentrating ability of the neonatal kidney is probably of no clinical significance in all but the most extreme circumstances and is not a major factor in an infant becoming dehydrated, developing hypernatremia or being at greater risk of acute renal injury. Acid-base status in infants must be interpreted appropriately to know when alkali therapy should be introduced to avoid growth failure secondary to true metabolic acidosis. When plasma renin activity is measured in the infant with renal failure of hypertension, one must compare the result with the normal range of values related to postnatal age of normal infants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney / growth & development*
  • Kidney Function Tests