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Acta Paediatr. 1997 May;86(5):518-22.

Measurement of albumin and low molecular weight proteins in the urine of newborn infants using a cotton wool ball collection method.

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Department of Paediatrics, Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.



The aim of this study was to investigate the inter-relationship between urinary excretion of alpha-1-microglobulin (A1M), retinol-binding protein (RBP) and albumin in term and premature neonates, with urine collected into cotton wool balls and extracted by a novel method.


Sixty-four infants were studied on the first day of life; 26 had been born at term (37-42 weeks gestation) and 38 prematurely (24-28 weeks n = 16, 29-36 weeks n = 22). Urine collected into cotton wool balls was analysed following a new detergent extraction method, which resulted in a recovery rate of 94-107% for albumin. A1M, RBP and creatinine.


Urinary protein excretion, expressed as a ratio to urinary creatinine, decreased significantly with increasing gestational age (24-28 weeks, 29-36 weeks, 37-42 weeks: albumin:creatinine ratio mg/mmol mean 96.9, 31.7, 19.3; A1M:creatinine ratio mg/mmol mean 99.3, 37.0, 7.8; RBP:creatinine ratio mg/mmol mean 16.2, 3.8, and < 0.01, below the limit of detection, respectively). When results were corrected for birthweight, this gestation-associated effect was still present for A1M and RBP, but not for albumin. In premature infants there was a significant positive correlation between A1M:creatinine ratio and RBP:creatinine ratio (r = 0.85), and also between albumin and both A1M and RBP (r = 0.82 and 0.77).


Increased excretion of A1M, RBP and albumin at earlier gestational ages is probably due to proximal tubular immaturity, although tubular damage and also glomerular dysfunction cannot be excluded as possible explanations.

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