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Expressing glomerular filtration rate in children


We have reviewed the studies that provide the current standards of reference for glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in normal children from 14 days to 12 years of postnatal age. These standards currently are presented as ml/min per 1.73 m2, i.e., adjusted to average adult body surface area. Children from birth to 1 year of age have adjusted values below the adult range, making comparisons of observed to reference values difficult. Currently, there is no accepted way of obtaining reference values that vary smoothly with age. An analysis of the absolute GFR values in normal children taken from published studies led to an equation that estimates average GFR in relation to weight and term-adjusted age from-2 months (7 months gestational age) to 12 years in children at least 14 days post delivery. When these data are transformed to percentage of normal (% nl) for age and weight (i.e., percentage of the estimated average), it is possible to describe approximate apparent lower limits of normal GFR as is now done for adults and older children. For children with loss of renal mass, GFR expressed as % nl for age and weight provides a convenient standardization which has several useful applications. First, results expressed as % nl for children of different ages, particularly under 1 year of age, can be combined with those of older children for summary purposes. Second, the course of GFR measured serially in children is more appropriately described using this method for expressing GFR. Reporting GFR in absolute values is also useful, particularly in patients whose body mass is significantly distorted or whose absolute GFR is low.

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Correspondence to Malcolm A. Holliday.

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Heilbron, D.C., Holliday, M.A., Al-Dahwi, A. et al. Expressing glomerular filtration rate in children. Pediatr Nephrol 5, 5–11 (1991).

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Key words

  • Glomerular filtration rate
  • Percentage of normal
  • Surface area