Preterm Birth and/or Factors that Lead to Preterm Delivery: Effects on the Neonatal Kidney

Danica Ryan and Mary Jane Black

Preterm birth (defined as birth prior to 37 completed weeks of gestation), occurs in approximately 10% of all births and is one of the leading causes of neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. Preterm infants are born at a time when kidney development is still ongoing, and consequently can lead to renal impairment (in both the short-term and long-term), as well as severe glomerular abnormalities in some preterm infants. Since the glomerular abnormalities are not present in all preterm kidneys, this suggests that it is not preterm birth per se that leads to the glomerular abnormalities but may relate to factors associated with the etiology of the premature delivery, or factors in neonatal care. In this review, we provide an overview of what is currently known of how prenatal and postnatal factors can potentially impact on the immature kidneys of infants born preterm.