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The effect of corticosteroid therapy on growth in Black South African children with nephrotic syndrome.

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The most useful drugs in the management of nephrotic syndrome are the corticosteroids. These drugs are as well known for their adverse effects as they are for their therapeutic advantages. The two most common paediatric side effects are suppression of linear growth and posterior subcapsular cataracts. Both of these untoward effects are insiduous and therefore less easily perceived. Although many workers have studied the growth inhibiting effects of the corticosteroids in the various diseases e.g. asthma, very little work was done to investigate these effects in patients with nephrotic syndrome. Furthermore, the Renal Clinic, King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban continues to use a daily regime of prednisone instead of the alternate day regime which is widely recommended to minimise growth retardation. This study was therefore undertaken to investigate the growth inhibiting effects of repeated courses of daily, high-dose prednisone in African and Indian children with nephrotic syndrome. All children with nephrotic syndrome with relevant data in their records and with no other chronic illness were selected from the Renal Clinic. Of the 125 selected, 87 children had been treated with prednisone for an average of 35,9 weeks and 38 had been treated symptomatically. The heights of those that received prednisone were measured at an averace of 77 weeks after completion of therapy. The mean height standard deviation score (SDS) of the treatment and control groups of Indian children were -1,06 and -0,92 respectively, both being between the 10th and 25th percentile, whilst the mean height SDS of the treatment and control groups of African children were -1,82 (just below the 5th percentile) and -1,77 (between the 5th and 10th percentile) respectively. From the results, it is evident that repeated courses of daily prednisone therapy, even when it exceeds 36 weeks, does not inhibit growth in both African and Indian children. Although there was no significant difference between the races and sexes with respect to growth and corticosteroid therapy, this study does confirm earlier reports that most of the African children with nephrotic syndrome had obvious glomerular lesions whilst most of the Indians had minimal change nephrotic syndrome.


Thesis (M.Med.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1986.


Adrenocortical hormones--Therapeutic use--Side effects., Children, Black--Diseases--South Africa., Children, Indian--Diseases--South Africa., Nephrotic syndrome in children., Paediatric nephrology., Steroid hormones--Therapeutic use., Theses--Paediatrics and child health.