Obesity Problematic for Young Transplant Patients

Author: Susan Farley

Investigators have found that more kids undergoing kidney transplants are obese and this causes greater postsurgical mortality risks. According to Dr. Mark M. Mitsnefes of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, many cardiovascular risks already exist following kidney transplantation, and obesity will only contribute to these risks. Dr. Mitsnefes and colleagues followed more than 6600 children between the ages of 2 and 17 who had undergone kidney transplantation between 1987 and 2002. After 1995, the percentage of obese children increased from 8% to 12%. The obese children were not only younger and shorter, but had required dialysis for a longer duration than the nonobese patients.

As reported in Pediatrics, the researchers found that obese kids between ages 6 and 12 had 3 times the risk of dying compared to kids who were not obese. Cardiopulmonary-related deaths occurred in 27% of obese children compared with 17% of nonobese children. Also, graft loss due to blood clots was more common in obese children. As a result, researchers encourage parents and physicians to understand the risk of excessive weight gain during dialysis and after kidney transplant.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.