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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Kidney Damage Found in Adolescents in High-risk Regions of Nicaragua

Researchers trying to find the cause of an epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Central America have previously identified strenuous manual labor in agriculture as a possible risk factor. But a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers suggests that the initial kidney damage may be present in adolescence, before young people start working.

The study, published in the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, examined biomarkers of kidney injury among 200 adolescents, ages 12 to 18, from four different schools in Nicaragua. Children in schools located in a region of high adult mortality from chronic kidney disease (CKD) generally had elevated biomarker levels compared with children in areas with lower mortality rates.

The findings suggest that children who live and attend school in areas of high adult CKD prevalence may be predisposed to the disease, “as a reflection of environmental exposures outside of the workplace and/or genetic influences,” the authors said.

Dr. Daniel Brooks, associate professor of epidemiology and co-author of the study, said the researchers decided to study adolescents because “we were struck by the number of people who were developing CKD in their early 20s, often after a relatively short time working in the fields. This suggested to us that the initial damage to the kidneys might be occurring before these young people started working, and then exposures at work were sufficient to rapidly lead to CKD.”

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