Accumulation of aluminum occurs in children with renal failure and can cause anemia, disabling osteodystrophy, and encephalopathy. Effects on bone mineralization are of particular concern in pediatric patients with growth potential. We measured plasma aluminum levels in 36 patients on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and 22 on hemodialysis under surveillance at a single pediatric center. The levels were above normal in 35 and 21 patients, respectively, and the values correlated with the oral dose of aluminum-containing phosphate-binding medications (r = 0.57; P<0.001). Younger and smaller children had higher plasma aluminum levels and also received larger doses of oral aluminum-containing compounds. Mean plasma aluminum levels (57.2 ± 52.8 and 48.7 ± 32.1 μg/liter, respectively) and the daily oral doses of elemental aluminum (47.3 ± 37.6 and 39.2 ± 26.7 mg/kg, respectively) were not statistically different in patients on CAPD and those on hemodialysis. Plasma aluminum levels did not correlate with estimated cumulative oral intake of aluminum, total duration of dialysis, serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations, N-terminal parathyroid hormone levels, or transfusion requirements. Retention of aluminum is common in children undergoing dialysis, correlates with the amount of aluminum administered orally, and results in similar elevations of plasma aluminum with CAPD and hemodialysis. Younger and smaller children are at increased risk for accumulation of aluminum. Alternative methods for control of serum phosphorus are needed in children with end-stage renal disease.
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