THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Minority children are less likely than white children to get a kidney transplant before their kidney disease gets so bad they need dialysis, U.S. researchers find.

They also found that black children with kidney failure and no health insurance are more likely than whites to die while waiting for a kidney transplant.

The Emory University researchers analyzed 2000-08 data from the U.S. Renal Data System, and found that white children had a 56 percent higher average annual rate of preemptive transplants than blacks and a 50 percent higher rate than Hispanics. A preemptive transplant is one performed before a patient begins dialysis.

White children were also more likely to have a living donor. Nearly 79 percent of whites had living donor, compared to 57 percent of Hispanic children and 49 percent of black children.

The reasons for these racial disparities aren't clear, but minority patients may have less access to health care, the researchers said.

The Emory team also examined deaths among all 8,146 kidney failure patients younger than 21 who began dialysis between January 2000 and September 2008 and did not receive a kidney transplant by September 2009.

There were 896 deaths, for an overall death rate of 9.7 percent. Black children with no health insurance were 59 percent more likely to die than whites. Hispanic children were less likely to die than children in other racial groups, regardless of insurance status.

The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Because this research was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney disease in children.