From the MORNING BULLETIN, 26th September, 2005.

The average Aborigine is born with about 200,000 fewer nephrons, or filtering units, in each kidney than their white Australian counterparts, an autopsy study suggests.

John Bertram, of Melbourne's Monash University, said a study of 50 people, including 25 Aborigines, had found each indigenous kidney contained an average 700,000 nephrons compared with 900,000 for whites, matched for age and sex.

"If you've got a low number, then you're at risk in later life of developing things such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease," Prof Bertram said.

Prof Bertram said research suggested improving the birth weights of indigenous babies could have a big impact on reducing the risk of cardiovascular and renal disease among Aborigines later in life.

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