Gestation in women with kidney disease: prognosis and management

Baillieres Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 1994 Jun;8(2):387-404. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3552(05)80327-x.


Physicians may be called upon to guide patients with renal disease on the advisability of conceiving or maintaining a gestation, or to manage pregnancies permitted to continue. The prevailing view is that the degree of functional impairment and the presence or absence of hypertension prior to conception determine both pregnancy outcome and the effect of gestation on the natural history of the kidney disorder (Table 3). Normotensive women with minimal dysfunction have a greater than 90% chance of success and there is little evidence that gestation will adversely affect the disease. Presence of hypertension increases the complications rate substantially if not aggressively controlled, and prognosis is also poorer in women with moderate renal dysfunction. Most gestations in the latter group succeed, but at considerable maternal risk: over 20% of these women experience renal functional deterioration, and 30-40% of them have major problems with hypertension. Thus we tend not to recommend pregnancy in patients with moderate renal insufficiency, and definitely discourage gestation when GFR is severely impaired. We advise termination, as most of these gestations fail, and maternal risk is substantial. There are a number of diseases in which pregnancy should not be undertaken, including scleroderma and periarteritis. Some authors believe that women with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis also do poorly, and opinions differ on the effects of gestation on IgA nephropathy, focal glomerulosclerosis, and reflux nephropathy. Table 4 summarizes our view concerning pregnancy in a number of specific renal disorders. Finally, in addition to the controversies noted above, there are other unresolved problems requiring further study. For instance, protein restriction should be avoided until the effect of this therapeutic manoeuvre on fetal development is evaluated. Also needed are conclusive studies on whether or not the physiological hyperfiltration of human pregnancy affects adversely pre-existing renal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / pathology
  • Pregnancy Complications* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications* / therapy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prognosis