Research Story Tip: Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease Among Mexican Americans Has Doubled in Recent Years


A new study looking at nearly three decades of data from some 54,000 people has determined that the overall prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) for several racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the United States has stabilized in recent years, except Mexican Americans.

Results from the research, conducted by investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and three medical institutions — including Deidra Crews, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine — were reported in the July 16, 2020, issue of JAMA Network Open.

Prevalence, as defined by the CDC, is “the proportion of persons in a population who have a particular disease or attribute at a specified point in time or over a specified period of time.” The study team looked at CKD prevalence among adults age 20 or older from 1988 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2016 for four racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, Mexican American and other), three educational levels (less than high school, high school and more than high school) and three income levels (low, middle and high).

“We found that overall prevalence of CKD, as well as the rates for all of the groups except one — Mexican Americans — stayed significantly the same from 2005 through 2016,” says Crews. “Among Mexican Americans during that period, the prevalence doubled, even when our analyses accounted for several potentially confounding variables, such as age and sex.”

Crews says the finding is consistent with recent studies showing a worsening overall health status for the Mexican American population compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Another revelation from the study, Crews adds, is that although CKD prevalence rates stabilized between 2005 and 2016 for most of the racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels analyzed, significant disparities in who gets CKD still remain across racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels.

“To narrow the gaps and move closer to health equity, stronger efforts are needed to effectively correct these persistent disparities in kidney health,” Crews says.

Data for the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a federal program to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States over long periods of time. NHANES findings are used to determine the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for those illnesses.