Aldosterone is important in the regulation of sodium conservation by both kidney and colon. In the very preterm neonate marked urinary salt wasting occurs because of immature renal tubular function, but little is known of the ontogeny of colonic transport processes. Using an in vivo rectal dialysis technique, we have shown that in the human infant the colon has well developed salt conserving mechanisms from early in the last trimester of gestation and that aldosterone is an important regulatory hormone. Sodium transport mechanisms in the colon appear to develop before those in the kidney and it is possible that the colon is the major organ of sodium conservation in the preterm neonate.
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