According to meta-analysis, people who were less than 5.5 pounds at birth were 70 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease when compared to people with normal birth weight.

Experimental studies suggest that restricted growth of a fetus in the womb can interfere with normal kidney development and result in fewer and smaller filtering units, or nephrons, at birth, told lead author Sarah L. White, of the George Institute and the University of Sydney in Australia.

Those with low birth weight may therefore be vulnerable to accelerated loss of kidney function later on as a result of any additional injuries to the kidney caused, for example, by accidents, infections or the presence of other risk factors such as diabetes, she explained.

In the study, White and team found significant associations between low birth weight and both of the principal markers of chronic kidney disease such as protein in the urine (albuminuria) and low estimated glomerular filtration rate (poor kidney function). Moreover, the researchers identified an association between low birth weight and subsequent development of kidney failure.

Despite the association between low birth weight and risk of chronic kidney disease in later life, early detection and management of chronic kidney disease and its risk factors are highly effective in preventing adverse outcomes, White said.

People who were very small at birth should avoid obesity that could lead to diabetes, maintain regular physical activity, avoid medications that could be toxic for the kidneys and see their doctors for simple assessment of chronic kidney disease including blood pressure measurement, a dipstick test for urinary protein and a blood test of serum creatinine level, she advised.