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Ten Percent of Americans Has A Relative With Kidney Failure

Approximately ten percent of U.S. adults have a family history of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). These individuals appear to be at increased risk of developing kidney disease// themselves, reports a study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"A family history of kidney disease is more frequent in African-Americans, who are also at substantially higher risk of ESRD," comments Dr. William McClellan of Emory University in Atlanta, lead author of the new study. "Our results suggest that efforts to reduce the risk of progressive kidney disease and ESRD targeted at these families might help improve the detection, treatment, and control of early kidney disease."

Dr. McClellan and colleagues used data on a representative sample of more than 12,000 black and white Americans aged 45 or older. Subjects were asked whether they had any relatives with "kidney failure," that is, ESRD: irreversible loss of kidney function requiring dialysis or transplantation.

Overall, 9.5 percent of subjects reported ESRD in a first-degree relative—a parent, sibling, or child. A family history of ESRD was more than twice as common for African-Americans as whites: 14 percent versus 6.4 percent. Having a family history of ESRD was also linked to higher rates of other kidney disease risk factors, including high blood glucose (sugar) levels and especially obesity.

African-Americans who had a relative with ESRD were at increased risk of having reduced kidney function themselves. The levels of impairment were similar to those leading to the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD)—initially mild reductions in kidney function that can lead to ESRD. The relationship between family history and personal risk of kidney disease was not as strong in whites.

End-stage renal disease is an increasingly frequent problem, occurring at substantially higher rates among African-Americans than whites. Previous studies have found that 1 in 5
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