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Prepregnancy renal function and risk of preterm birth and related outcomes


Background — Prepregnancy kidney dysfunction has been associated with preterm birth, which is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality; however, the relation is not well understood. We determined the risk of preterm birth in women with prepregnancy kidney dysfunction, defined using pregnancy-specific serum creatinine cut points.

Methods — This population-based cohort study in the province of Ontario, Canada, involved women aged 16 to 50 years who had a singleton birth between 2006 and 2016 and measurement of serum creatinine within 10 weeks preceding their estimated conception date. The exposure was abnormally elevated prepregnancy serum creatinine, defined as greater than the 95th percentile (> 77 μmol/L), a value derived from a population-based sample of women without known kidney disease who became pregnant soon after the measurement was obtained. The main outcome was any preterm birth from 23 to 36 weeks’ gestation. Secondary outcomes included provider-initiated preterm birth before 37 weeks’ gestation and spontaneous preterm birth before 37 weeks.

Results — Among 55 946 pregnancies, preterm birth before 37 weeks’ gestation occurred in 3956 women (7.1%). The risk of preterm birth before 37 weeks was higher among women with prepregnancy creatinine above the 95th percentile, relative to those with prepregnancy creatinine at or below the 95th percentile (9.1% v. 7.0%; adjusted relative risk [RR] 1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09 to 1.38). The effect was significant for provider-initiated preterm birth (adjusted RR 1.30, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.52) but not for spontaneous preterm birth (adjusted RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.37).

Interpretation — Given that prepregnancy kidney dysfunction conferred an increased risk of preterm birth, measurement of serum creatinine (a relatively inexpensive blood test) may form part of the assessment of risk for preterm birth among those planning pregnancy.



Harel Z, Park AL, McArthur E, Hladunewich M, Dirk JS, Wald R, Garg AX, Ray JG. CMAJ. 2020; 192(30):E851-7. Epub 2020 Jul 27.

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