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Living kidney donors have low risk for kidney failure

Living kidney donors have a slightly increased risk of developing kidney failure during their lifetime but their risk remains low relative to the general population who are not donors, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers found.

They used federal data to compare the incidence of end-stage kidney disease between more than 96,000 people who donated a kidney between 1994 and 2011 and more than 20,000 similar people who were not donors.

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Kidney donors had a slightly elevated risk of developing kidney failure 15 years after donating — an extra 27 cases per 10,000 people — compared to healthy non-donors. But by age 80, the donors’ estimated lifetime risk of kidney failure — 90 per 10,000 donors — was much lower than for the general population — 326 per 10,000 non-donors.

While there’s some risk involved in kidney donation, end-stage kidney disease is a rare complication and should not deter people from donating, Dr. John Gill of the University of British Columbia wrote in an accompanying editorial.

BOTTOM LINE: Living kidney donors may have a small increased risk of developing kidney disease.

CAUTIONS: The study could not determine a cause and effect relationship between kidney donation and developing kidney failure.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 12.

Higher insulin levels likely in preterm infants

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Infants born prematurely are more likely to have higher insulin levels than those delivered full-term, according to a study that adds to mounting evidence that preterm birth may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Boston University Medical Center looked at insulin levels of 1,358 children born between 1998 and 2010 and did follow-up testing to see whether higher insulin levels continued into childhood.

The earliest preterm infants had on average two times the insulin level at birth compared with full-term infants, and the insulin levels of the preterm infants remained high into early childhood. The closer an infant was to full-term, the lower their insulin levels.

The findings suggest that signs that a person is at risk for type 2 diabetes might be found as early as birth, the researchers wrote, potentially offering an opportunity for early intervention.

BOTTOM LINE: Preterm infants are more likely to have higher insulin levels than full-term infants.

CAUTIONS: The study did not determine whether preterm infants with high insulin levels go on to develop type 2 diabetes. The participants were part of the Boston Birth Cohort, a predominately urban and minority data set, so the findings may not apply to a wider group. One of the authors disclosed a financial relationship with Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in diabetes care.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 12.

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