Australia’s leading kidney health organisation, Kidney Health Australia, has warned Australian women about the risk of infertility and miscarriage.
Kidney Health Australia Interim CEO Dr Lisa Murphy urged women hoping to start a family to understand their kidney disease risk this Kidney Health Week (5th- 11th March) to preserve their fertility, improve their health, and increase their chances of having a healthy baby.
“Kidney related disease can cause miscarriage and infertility in women wanting to start a family, yet over 2.5 million Australian women do not know they are in a high-risk group for developing Chronic Kidney Disease, or the fact that fertility can be severely compromised because of the disease,” she said.
With Kidney Health Week coinciding with International Women’s Day and World Kidney Day on March 8, Dr Murphy is urging women to take a simple online test at www.kidney.org.au to find out if they are one of the ‘one in three people’ who is at increased risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease.
“Up to 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost with no apparent symptoms, and for women, kidney disease can severely impact their chances of having children. Fertility declines as Chronic Kidney Disease advances, which is why it’s so important for women who may want children to check their risk”.
“Chronic Kidney Disease can be treatable, and even reversible, if detected early. So we encourage all women to take the online test and, if they’re shown to be at increased risk, to see their GP for a kidney check,” said Dr Murphy.
Dr Shilpa Jesudason, Clinical Director at Kidney Health Australia and whose work focuses on pregnancy in women with kidney disease, says that pregnancy can sometimes uncover kidney disease in women, as it may be the first time they have undergone a blood pressure check or urine test.
“Pregnancy is a “stress test” for the kidneys – and in fact your kidneys work at 150% capacity by 12 weeks of pregnancy,” said Dr Jesudason.
“Problems in either a current or past pregnancy can be a red flag for future chronic health issues. In particular women with high blood pressure during pregnancy, and especially those with pre-eclampsia (toxaemia), are more likely to have underlying kidney problems or to face kidney disease and other chronic diseases later in life,” she said.
Currently almost 850,000 women living in Australia have signs of Chronic Kidney Disease, with 968 women starting renal replacement therapy for end stage kidney disease every year. Approximately 15-20% of the dialysis/transplant population are in their child-bearing years, so pregnancy and parenthood is a key concern for many of these women.
Fertility becomes more impaired as Chronic Kidney Disease advances, with women whose kidneys have completely failed rarely falling pregnant successfully. Pregnant women with Chronic Kidney Disease are also more likely to experience problems during pregnancy such as high blood pressure and impaired growth of the baby.
However, careful planning and specialised care has resulted in successful pregnancies, with on average 30-50 pregnancies each year in women receiving dialysis or a transplant. While complications, like premature birth or other medical issues in the mother, can occur, many are successful, especially after a life-saving kidney transplant.
“Worldwide, thousands of babies have been born after a kidney transplant, which is a wonderful outcome for these women. Early detection and treatment however is the best option to increase the likelihood of having children and leading a healthier life. Do not wait until you feel sick to check your kidneys because by that time it may be too late,” advises Dr Jesudason.
To take Kidney Health Australia’s ‘Are you the 1 in 3?’ test to find out if you are at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and for more information on Kidney Health Week, visit www.kidney.org.au.
World Kidney Day also takes place on 8th March 2018.
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