Symptoms for early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in children - a machine learning-based score

Eur J Pediatr. 2023 Aug;182(8):3631-3637. doi: 10.1007/s00431-023-05032-x. Epub 2023 May 26.


The objective of this study was to reveal the signs and symptoms for the classification of pediatric patients at risk of CKD using decision trees and extreme gradient boost models for predicting outcomes. A case-control study was carried out involving children with 376 chronic kidney disease (cases) and a control group of healthy children (n = 376). A family member responsible for the children answered a questionnaire with variables potentially associated with the disease. Decision tree and extreme gradient boost models were developed to test signs and symptoms for the classification of children. As a result, the decision tree model revealed 6 variables associated with CKD, whereas twelve variables that distinguish CKD from healthy children were found in the "XGBoost". The accuracy of the "XGBoost" model (ROC AUC = 0.939, 95%CI: 0.911 to 0.977) was the highest, while the decision tree model was a little lower (ROC AUC = 0.896, 95%CI: 0.850 to 0.942). The cross-validation of results showed that the accuracy of the evaluation database model was like that of the training.

Conclusion: In conclusion, a dozen symptoms that are easy to be clinically verified emerged as risk indicators for chronic kidney disease. This information can contribute to increasing awareness of the diagnosis, mainly in primary care settings. Therefore, healthcare professionals can select patients for more detailed investigation, which will reduce the chance of wasting time and improve early disease detection.

What is known: • Late diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in children is common, increasing morbidity. • Mass screening of the whole population is not cost-effective.

What is new: • With two machine-learning methods, this study revealed 12 symptoms to aid early CKD diagnosis. • These symptoms are easily obtainable and can be useful mainly in primary care settings.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Early diagnosis; Machine learning techniques; Pediatrics; XGBoost.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Risk Factors