Growth failure is an important problem for children with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Patients receiving replacement therapy for longstanding renal failure since childhood are likely to report dissatisfaction with certain aspects of their lives, especially with final adult height. Additionally, recent data suggest that growth failure in children with ESRD is associated with adverse clinical outcomes, including more frequent hospitalizations, and increased mortality. Although poor growth is unlikely to be the cause of this increased morbidity, growth failure may be a marker for a group of patients at high risk of adverse events. In this review, the authors describe the prevalence of growth retardation in children in the US with chronic renal disease, and present recent data on morbidity associated with growth failure. After reviewing published reports documenting available strategies to optimize growth, the authors conclude that despite vigilance and aggressive clinical management, a subset of children with long-term renal insufficiency and ESRD may still have poor linear growth. A discussion of "optimal care" leads one to consider evidence of current variability in the management of growth retardation in ESRD, and the strengths and limitations of developing practice guidelines to optimize growth in this population.
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