, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 431-434
Date: 05 Jul 2008

Hemoglobin target in chronic kidney disease: a pediatric perspective

Abstract

Erythropoietin has transformed the treatment of the anemia of chronic kidney disease (CKD) by preventing the need for blood transfusions and improving the quality of life in all patients, including children. Anemia in children, in the age group 1–19 years, may be defined as hemoglobin (Hgb) levels < 12.1–13.5 g/dl for boys and < 11.4–11.5 g/dl for girls, based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) norms. The prevalence of anemia in children ranges from 31.2% in stage 1 CKD to 93.3% in stages 4 and 5 CKD. The recent publication of trials evaluating the optimal hemoglobin level in adult CKD patients has generated considerable uncertainty about the target Hgb level in children with CKD. It is unclear whether generalizing of results from these trials in adults to children is appropriate. Adequately powered, randomized, controlled studies have not been conducted on children, and none to our knowledge are currently planned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers scant guidance on the Hgb target level for children, other than implying that it should be no different from that for adults. The purpose of this editorial is to critically scrutinize whether there is a benefit to the normalization of anemia in children with CKD and whether adoption of the results from adult studies is appropriate.