Background: Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is associated with higher morbidity and mortality not only in perinatal life but also in later life. The purpose of our study was to determine whether IUGR has any effect on the course of minimal change nephrotic syndrome (MCNS) in children.
Methods: Forty children who were between 1 and 16 years old at the onset of MCNS, who have been followed for at least three years and for whom we were able to obtain birth weights and gestational ages, were included. The diagnosis of MCNS was predicted on the basis of clinical and laboratory features, and in 11 children (27.5%) the diagnosis was confirmed by renal biopsy. IUGR was defined as birth weight below the tenth percentile for gestational age.
Results: Five children (12.5%) had signs of IUGR at birth. In children with IUGR, we observed a higher mean number of relapses (10.4 vs. 3.3, P < 0.001) and a higher incidence of steroid dependency (80% vs. 21%, P < 0.02) than in children without IUGR. Other differences between children with and those without IUGR included more frequent treatment with cytotoxic agents and cyclosporine, and a higher incidence of renal biopsy in children with IUGR.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated an unfavorable course of MCNS in children with IUGR. IUGR could therefore enable early identification of those children who are at risk of becoming frequent relapsers and of developing steroid dependency. This, however, should be confirmed in a larger number of patients.