Kidney Donation Holds Few Risks for Women Who May Become Pregnant

Women who want to bear children in the future need not worry about the risks of donating a kidney before pregnancy, researchers have found.

Historically, little information has been available on whether women kidney donors can go on to have healthy pregnancies. Sanjeev Akkina, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis looked at the issue by studying 2025 women who donated kidneys since June 1963. Of these, 965 reported becoming pregnant—822 donors reported 2416 pregnancies before donation and 223 reported 459 pregnancies after donation.

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Post-donation pregnancies had a higher incidence of certain health conditions than pre-donation pregnancies, but their incidence was comparable to those seen in the general population.

“A woman who has donated a kidney does not face any additional risks of developing hypertension or diabetes during a future pregnancy or of having a miscarriage or of giving birth prematurely, Akkina said. “We believe this research is important so that future kidney donors are aware of the long-term effects [of donation],” he said.

The study’s findings could have a significant clinical impact, according to Milagros Samaniego-Picota, MD, a nephrologist and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. “There is a paucity of data about outcomes in living kidney donors,” she said. “This information will prove useful to nephrologists around the country charged with the task of living donor evaluations and advocacy.”

More than half of all living kidney donors are female, and of these, 79 percent are women of childbearing age, said Samaniego-Picota.

The study, “Pregnancy Outcomes after Kidney Donation,” was part of the session on “Care Delivery in Kidney Transplantation and the Living Kidney Donor.”