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Workplace Health Saf. 2019 Sep;67(9):481-490. doi: 10.1177/2165079919843308. Epub 2019 Jun 10.

Chronic Kidney Disease Among Workers: A Review of the Literature.

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1 Emory University.
2 University of Florida.
3 Young Harris College.


For the past two decades, agricultural workers in regions of Central America have reported an epidemic of chronic kidney disease of undetermined etiology (CKDu) that is not associated with established risk factors of chronic kidney disease. Several hypotheses have emerged, but the etiology of CKDu remains elusive and controversial. The aim of this literature review was to describe the potential risk factors of CKDu in Mesoamerica and implications for the U.S. agricultural worker population. PubMed and CINAHL databases were searched for articles published between 2000 and 2018 that examined CKDu in Mesoamerica; 29 original studies were included in this review. CKDu is a multifactorial disease that is often asymptomatic with hallmark characteristics of elevated serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), low glomerular filtration rate, electrolyte abnormalities, and non-nephrotic proteinuria. Reducing the global prevalence of CKDu will require more robust studies on causal mechanisms and on interventions that can reduce morbidity and mortality in vulnerable populations.


CKDu; Mesoamerican nephropathy; agricultural communities; agricultural workers; chronic kidney disease; occupational hazards

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