Diseases and Disorders

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Children

Kidney Disease in Children? Kidney disorders and diseases have become an increasing problem for children. It could be because of genetic reasons or because of any kind of injury, accident, or surgery. It can also result from any kind of blockage in the urinary tract or as a complication of uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.

Kidney disease is a widespread illness. It can be genetic, or it can be caused by an infection. With children, they are at a greater risk because their kidneys are still developing. Kidney disease In children is fairly uncommon and often goes undetected until adulthood because by the time symptoms arise, irreversible damage has occurred.

A kidney is a vital organ that provides an important role in the human body. This organ filters the blood and removes waste and excess water from the body. Kidney disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, obesity, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), an autoimmune disorder, or long-term use of certain medications.

Causes of Kidney Disease in Kids

Birth defects are abnormal physical or biological conditions that happen to a baby while growing in its mother’s womb. Birth defects can result from an environmental issue or a genetic disease. Common birth defects related to the kidneys include:

  • Being born with one kidney instead of two (renal agenesis, or solitary kidney)
  • Being born with two kidneys, but one that does not work (renal dysplasia)
  • Being born with a kidney that is not in the right location (ectopic kidney)

Most children born with a kidney birth defect will not have major health problems. Children born with a single kidney or one non-working kidney may have a higher chance of getting kidney disease later in life. If a child is born with a kidney birth defect, talk to the child’s pediatrician about how often they should be checked for signs of kidney disease.

How to Diagnose Kidney Disease in Children?

Kidney disease in children is diagnosed the same way it is in adults. A urine test, blood test, imaging test, or kidney biopsy can help determine if something is wrong with the kidneys.

The eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) blood test shows how well the kidneys are working. The stages of kidney disease are decided by a person’s eGFR. eGFR can diagnose a child’s stage of kidney disease once the child reaches age two.

A healthy newborn baby’s eGFR will be between 40 and 60, which is low for adults. Doctors test for kidney disease in children under two-years-old using methods other than eGFR including a urine or imaging test.

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Complications of Kidney Disease in Children

Following are the 4 major complications of kidney disease in children;

  1. Growth Delay – When a child has kidney disease, the kidneys do not filter waste from their body in how healthy kidneys do. Toxins and wastes can build up in the blood, leading to complications such as anemia, high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and poor nutrition. These complications can interrupt the growth and development of the body and brain.
  2. Developmental delay – Complications from kidney disease can affect the normal growth of a child’s brain. 
  3. Anemia – Anemia is a common complication in children and adults with kidney disease. It happens when the body cannot make enough red blood cells. Anemia can cause a child to feel tired, dizzy, or have a hard time concentrating.
  4. Bone disease – The kidneys play an important role in keeping bones healthy. Children with kidney disease often develop problems with their bones, like bone disease or weak and brittle bones. To help prevent bone disease, a doctor might suggest certain foods to eat, medications, or growth hormones.

Compared to healthy children, children with kidney disease may also have

  • Behavior problems
  • Emotional problems
  • Issues with self-image
  • Nerve damage
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble controlling their bladder

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How to Manage Kidney Disease in Children?

These 5 tips below will help you keep a check on your child’s condition;

  1. Physical activity: Involve your child in any kind of exercise. It is not only important for the physical, social, and emotional health and growth of the kids, but will also help in maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of kidney diseases and other metabolic disorders like hypertension and diabetes. It is also advised to limit your kid’s screen time for not over 2 hours per day.
  2. Limit the intake of salt and sugar: Excessive intake of sugar and salt can be harmful to kidneys. It also increases the risk of diabetes and obesity. Avoid sugary drinks, snacks, and cereals as they have high sugar content. It is also best to avoid processed foods and fast foods that are high on sodium and can lead to hypertension and kidney problems.
  3. Drink adequate water: Water helps in removing the wastes and toxins and is also essential for the functioning of the organs. Keep your kids hydrated with at least 2-3 liters of daily water intake, unless the doctor has restricted the amount. Remember, there is no replacement of water. It is best to avoid juices, colas, and other sweetened and processed beverages.
  4. Avoid skipping medicine: It is important to stick to the medicine timings as suggested by your doctor. If there are a few medicines that have to be taken in the afternoon, you can always also take the help of a school teacher or principal. It is very important to avoid self-medication, as this can be very harmful to the kidneys.
  5. Regular checkups: It is very important to go for regular check-ups as suggested by your doctor. It will help to keep a check on the progression of the disease and decide if any change in treatment or medications is required.

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Reference: American Kidney Fund

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