Prediction of acute renal failure after birth asphyxia.
Twenty-one babies of 34-41 weeks' gestational age with birth asphyxia (5 minute Apgar score less than or equal to 5 or umbilical artery pH less than or equal to 7.2) were studied during the first two days of life to find out whether the urinary excretion of tubular markers of renal function is of value in the early diagnosis of acute renal failure. Urinary retinol binding protein, myoglobin, and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG), expressed as a ratio with urinary creatinine, were measured and excretion profiles repeated at 3-6 days in 15 infants and at 7-14 days in 11 infants. Plasma creatinine concentration, creatinine clearance, plasma myoglobin concentration, and fractional sodium excretion were measured where possible in asphyxiated infants. Control data were obtained from 50 healthy infants: 28 gave urine samples alone, 17 urine and blood, and five blood alone. Normal urinary values were derived from 17, 25, and three infants, respectively, for the three time periods. The number of control samples was limited for ethical reasons. Four asphyxiated infants had acute renal failure (group 1), four had tubular dysfunction without glomerular disturbance (group 2) and 13 had normal renal function (group 3). Group 1 were clearly identified by greatly increased urinary retinol binding protein (greater than 27,000 micrograms/mmol creatinine) and myoglobin (greater than 1500 micrograms/mmol creatinine) excretion measured in the first two days of life. In control infants the range of excretion of retinol binding protein within the same time period was 3 to 967 micrograms/mmol creatinine and urinary myoglobin was undetectable. Excretion of NAG failed to discriminate between groups 1 and 2. Acute renal failure occurred only in infants who had heavy myoglobinaemia. Tubular dysfunction in group 2 was transient and not accompanied by plasma electrolyte disturbances. We conclude that measurement of urinary excretion of retinol binding protein or myoglobin after birth is helpful in the early diagnosis of acute renal failure.