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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Etiology and outcomes of acute kidney injury in Chinese children: a prospective multicentre investigation

Yan Cao, Zhu-Wen Yi*, Hui Zhang, Xi-Qiang Dang, Xiao-Chuan Wu and Ai-Wen Huang

Author Affiliations

Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Children’s Medical Center, the Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410011, P.R. China

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BMC Urology 2013, 13:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-13-41

Published: 21 August 2013



The incidence of AKI appears to have increasing trend. Up to now, prospective, multi-center, large-sample epidemiological study done on pediatric AKI on aspects of epidemiological characteristics, causes and outcomes have not reported. It is necessary to develop prospective, multi-center, large-sample epidemiological study in our country on pediatric AKI. The aim of this study was to determine the clinical features, etiology, and outcomes of acute kidney injury (AKI) in Chinese children.


Paediatric patients (≤18 years old) admitted to 27 hospitals (14 children’s hospitals and 13 general hospitals) affiliated with the Medical University were investigated. AKI was defined using the 2005 Acute Kidney Injury Network criteria.


During the study period, 388,736 paediatric patients were admitted. From this total, AKI was diagnosed in 1,257 patients, 43 of whom died. The incidence and mortality of AKI was 0.32% and 3.4% respectively. The mean (± SD) age of patients was 48.4 ± 50.4 months. Among the 1,257 AKI paediatric patients, 632 were less than one year old. Among the AKI paediatric patients, 615 (48.9%) were in stage 1, 277 (22.0%) in stage 2, and 365 (29.0%) in stage 3. The most common causes of AKI were renal causes (57.52%), whereas postrenal (25.69%) and prerenal (14.96%) causes were the least common. The three most common causes of AKI according to individual etiological disease were urolithiasis (22.35%), of which exposure to melamine-contaminated milk accounted for the highest incidence (63.7%); acute glomerulonephritis (10.10%); and severe dehydration (7.48%). A total of 43 AKI patients (3.4%) died during their hospital stay; 15 (34.9%) of the 43 died as a result of sepsis.


Primary renal diseases are a major risk factor for paediatric AKI in China. In terms of specific etiological disease, urolithiasis (postrenal disease) was the leading cause of paediatric AKI in 2008, when the disease was linked to exposure to melamine-contaminated milk. Sepsis is the leading cause of death in Chinese paediatric AKI patients. Future studies should focus on effective ways of controlling renal disorders and sepsis to improve the clinical management of paediatric AKI in China.

Acute kidney injury; Childhood; Multi-center; Clinical epidemiology; Investigation