Background Low birthweight (LBW) is a worldwide public health problem, demonstrating an increasing incidence in developed countries, including Japan. LBW is also a risk factor for later development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). To date, studies have not evaluated the population impacts of increasing LBW rates on renal function. Methods Estimated glomerular filtration rate (EGFR) was evaluated in 3737 Japanese adolescent males (15-16 years old) using annual cross-sectional data over an 18-year period (1998-2015). Results Between the initial (1998-2003) and final (2010-15) periods of the study, the mean birthweight decreased from 3213.4 ± 383.8 to 3116.2 ± 382.3 g and the LBW rate increased from 2.5 to 5.5% (both P ≤ 0.01). Additionally, the mean EGFR decreased from 105.1 ± 15.9 to 97.4 ± 13.8 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and the prevalence of mildly reduced renal function (EGFR ≤ 60-<90 mL/min/1.73 m 2) increased from 16.4 to 30.0% (both P ≤ 0.01), most evident in the LBW group (from 10.3 to 41.7%, P ≤0.01). The prevalence of proteinuria also increased significantly. Mildly reduced renal function was significantly associated with LBW [odds ratio (LBW 3000-3999 g) 1.51; 95% confidence interval 1.00-2.55; P = 0.047]. Conclusions In this population of Japanese adolescents, the frequency of mildly reduced renal function increased as the LBW frequency increased. Our findings may have implications for the broader Japanese population as well as for other populations in which the prevalence of LBW is increasing.
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