Mom’s kidney health determines baby’s

Chennai: “The physiological nature of a woman’s body protects her kidney until she reaches menopause; however, renal health gets affected post the stage. Despite differences from that of men’s organs, records state that more women come forward to donate their kidneys,” noted Osmania Medical College and Hospital Department of Nephrology professor and head, Dr Manisha Sahay.

She was participating in the 18th conference of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF), inaugurated Monday, and made a presentation on women and kidney health. She pointed out that women’s kidneys are smaller and possess low glomerular filtration rate (GFR) than men.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the eighth common cause leading to death in women. Studies show that the problem is compounded in emerging economies, including India.


“In the general population, women have longer life expectancy than men which is because of decreased cardiovascular diseases among them. Women are protected until menopause due to the secretion of protective hormone – estrogen. However, when the hormone ceases to secrete, the mortality rate of women increases and is equal to that of their male counterparts,” said Dr Manisha.

In several countries, it has been reported that CKD and young stage kidney diseases are common among men. “The progression of CKD is lesser and slower in women. But this does not last after menopause,” stated the doctor.


Women face kidney problems – specifically pregnant women have renal diseases or a complicated delivery. “The incidence of such conditions has come down to 1.5 per cent in developing countries as against the previous data. However, compared to developed countries, we have 30 to 300 times obstetric kidney failure cases till date. In the earlier days, septic abortion was the major reason and now it is hypertension (also known as, pre-eclamptic toxaemia [PET]) followed by anti-partum and post-partum haemorrhage. So most of the emerging countries are moving towards the latter two conditions,” stated Dr Manisha.

In PET, there is a two-way communication happening between placenta and kidneys. “The placenta releases factors that can damage the kidney and vice-versa. It causes huge pregnancy death, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Many of the women have hypertension during pregnancy and is casually neglected by them. It increases the chances of permanent kidney failure and other diseases that can be a harbinger for CKD,” she explained.

The condition can lead to dialysis-depending situation within four weeks of development and impacts the foetus – it dies or can be a preemie or has low birth weight.

“In later life, if it’s a pre-term baby, it can have lesser number of nephrons that significantly contributes to CKD. Thus, it does not spare the next generation. Maternal kidney health is one of the key determinants for safe renal health in future generations,” she added.

Bhavani Prabhakar