However, the same study shows maintaining healthy blood pressure, a healthy weight, and reducing smoking should help people keep their kidneys healthy for longer.
Lead author Dr Hayley Guiney, of Otago’s Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, says kidneys play an important role in our health by filtering waste products from our blood, controlling blood pressure and regulating levels of salt, water, and other chemicals in our system. Their function can decline with age.
“Poor kidney function is usually associated with older age and most of the research to date, focuses on older adults. But as aging is a gradual process, we wanted to understand how kidney function changes before the age of 45, can we detect early changes in kidney function that will then lead to impaired kidney function as we age, and what are some of the risk factors,” she says.
The researchers found about 6 percent of people's kidneys were functioning poorly for their age, and another 36 percent had some signs of lower-than-normal function.
“We could see that growing up in a socioeconomically deprived household or being overweight in childhood increased the risk that someone might be on one of these riskier paths.
“When they were adults, people who had high blood pressure, were overweight, had high systemic inflammation, were at risk for diabetes, smoked, or were living in deprived socioeconomic conditions, showed faster declines in kidney function between the ages of 32 and 45,” Dr Guiney says.
However, as with many diseases, early intervention is key to preventing or slowing the onset of chronic kidney disease.
“We’ve shown that people can make changes in adulthood that should help keep their kidneys healthy for longer, like maintaining healthy blood pressure, a healthy weight, and reducing smoking.