Methods to estimate baseline creatinine and define acute kidney injury in lean Ugandan children with severe malaria: a prospective cohort study

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is increasingly recognized as a consequential clinical complication in children with severe malaria. However, approaches to estimate baseline creatinine (bSCr) are not standardized in this unique patient population. Prior to wide-spread utilization, bSCr estimation methods need to be evaluated in many populations, particularly in children from low-income countries.

Methods: We evaluated six methods to estimate bSCr in Ugandan children aged 6 months to 12 years of age in two cohorts of children with severe malaria (n = 1078) and healthy community children (n = 289). Using isotope dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS)-traceable creatinine measures from community children, we evaluated the bias, accuracy and precision of estimating bSCr using height-dependent and height-independent estimated glomerular filtration (eGFR) equations to back-calculate bSCr or estimating bSCr directly using published or population-specific norms.

Results: We compared methods to estimate bSCr in healthy community children against the IDMS-traceable SCr measure. The Pottel-age based equation, assuming a normal GFR of 120 mL/min per 1.73m2, was the more accurate method with minimal bias when compared to the Schwartz height-based equation. Using the different bSCr estimates, we demonstrated the prevalence of KDIGO-defined AKI in children with severe malaria ranged from 15.6–43.4%. The lowest estimate was derived using population upper levels of normal and the highest estimate was derived using the mean GFR of the community children (137 mL/min per 1.73m2) to back-calculate the bSCr. Irrespective of approach, AKI was strongly associated with mortality with a step-wise increase in mortality across AKI stages (p < 0.0001 for all). AKI defined using the Pottel-age based equation to estimate bSCr showed the strongest relationship with mortality with a risk ratio of 5.13 (95% CI 3.03–8.68) adjusting for child age and sex.

Conclusions: We recommend using height-independent age-based approaches to estimate bSCr in hospitalized children in sub-Saharan Africa due to challenges in accurate height measurements and undernutrition which may impact bSCr estimates. In this population the Pottel-age based GFR estimating equation obtained comparable bSCr estimates to population-based estimates in healthy children.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BioMed Central

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.