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Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 Apr;22(2):83-89. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2016.12.002. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Renal function in the fetus and neonate - the creatinine enigma.

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Division of Pediatric Nephrology, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sanford Children's Hospital, 1600 W 22nd St., Sioux Falls, SD 57117, USA. Electronic address:


The use of serum creatinine levels to estimate glomerular function in infants is admittedly fraught with inherent inaccuracies which are both physiological and methodological in nature. This characteristic can understandably reduce the neonatal clinician's confidence in the ability of serum creatinine levels to provide useful information relevant to their patients' medical care. The aim of this review is to provide further insight into the peculiarities of serum creatinine trends in both premature and term infants with special focus on the maturational and developmental changes occurring in the kidney during this crucial time-period. Though newer markers of glomerular function are gaining increasing traction in the clinical realm, the most prominent of which is currently cystatin C, creatinine nonetheless remains an important player in the scientific evolution of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) estimation. Not only do its limitations provide a level of distinction for newer markers of GFR, but its advantages persist in refining the precision of newer GFR formulae which incorporate multiple patient characteristics.


Acute kidney injury; Creatinine; Cystatin C; Glomerular filtration rate; Kidney function tests; Neonate; Premature infant

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