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March 13, 2014

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Doc wants 2 tests for kidney disease

A CITY doctor is calling for a double-screening mechanism to help detect kidney disease in babies and young children.

A dual system of urine tests for schoolchildren and ultrasound checks for newborns in high-risk groups would significantly increase China’s ability to diagnose kidney problems, Dr Xu Hong from the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University said yesterday, the eve of World Kidney Day.

The combination has a 90 percent success rate in diagnosing chronic kidney disease in children, Xu said.

The quicker children are diagnosed, the faster they can be treated, she said.

About 30 children a year in Shanghai are diagnosed with uremia.

In 2012, the Shanghai education authority became the first in the country to introduce free urine screening for all first-graders in the city. While the checks are undoubtedly valuable, they do not identify congenital problems, such as deformities of the kidneys or urinary tract, which are among the main causes of chronic kidney disease in children.

Globally, between three and six babies in every thousand are born with a kidney or urinary tract deformity. But during widespread screening of infants following the scandal over melamine found in baby formula in China in 2008, doctors found that as many as 3 percent had a kidney or urinary tract deformity.

In recent tests conducted on high-risk newborns by doctors at Fudan University, more than 9 percent were found to have urinary system abnormalities.

“China lags behind in terms of the ultrasound technology used in prenatal checks, and there is no system for widespread post-natal checks for urinary disease,” Dr Xu said.

“Of all the newborns found to have kidney deformities, just 9.5 percent were identified during prenatal ultrasound checks,” she said.


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