What is the progression of diabetic nephropathy in pediatric type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM)?

Updated: Mar 23, 2021
  • Author: William H Lamb, MD, MBBS, FRCP(Edin), FRCP, FRCPCH; Chief Editor: Sasigarn A Bowden, MD  more...
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The exact mechanism of diabetic nephropathy is unknown. Peak incidence is in postadolescents, 10-15 years after diagnosis, and it may occur in as many as 30% of people with type 1 diabetes mellitus. [16]

In a patient with nephropathy, the albumin excretion rate (AER) increases until frank proteinuria develops, and this may progress to renal failure. Blood pressure rises with increased AER, and hypertension accelerates the progression to renal failure. Having diabetic nephropathy also increases the risk of significant diabetic retinopathy.

Progression may be delayed or halted by improved diabetes control, administration of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), and aggressive blood pressure control. Regular urine screening for microalbuminuria provides opportunities for early identification and treatment to prevent renal failure.

A child younger than 15 years with persistent proteinuria may have a nondiabetic cause and should be referred to a pediatric nephrologist for further assessment.

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