Kidney disease: How does it affect kids?

Children can experience kidney illness in a variety of ways, from curable problems without long-term effects to life-threatening situations. Once the actual problem has been addressed, acute kidney illness usually appears quickly, lasts for a brief period of time, and might be severe with long-lasting effects or disappear entirely. Treatment does not cure chronic kidney disease (CKD), which worsens over time. When CKD is not handled with a kidney transplantation or blood-filtering procedures known as dialysis, it eventually results in renal failure, also known as finished kidney disease (ESRD).

The difficulties that kids with CKD or renal failure confront include include


  • a poor sense of oneself, interpersonal issues
  • behavioral issues
  • learning difficulties
  • difficulty focusing
  • delayed development of linguistic abilities
  • delayed development of motor skills


Urinary incontinence, or the lack of bladder control that results in the unintentional leakage of urine, is prevalent in children with CKD, who may also develop more slowly than their peers.


Caring for a Child with Kidney Disease, an NIDDK health issue, has further details.


What are kidneys, and what function do they serve?


Two bean-shaped organs, the kidneys are each roughly the size of a hand. On either side of the spine, one is immediately below the rib cage. The two kidneys filter between 120 and 150 quarts of blood each day to create 1 to 2 quarts of urine, which is made up of waste and surplus fluid.


The amount of urine that children generate varies with age and is lower than that of adults. The kidneys function continuously; a person has no influence over what they do. The slender muscular tubes known as ureters, one on either side of the bladder, are responsible for transporting urine from each kidney to the bladder. Until the user finds a suitable time and location to pee, the bladder retains urine.


The kidney does not function as one big filter. Around a million nephrons, or filtering cells, make up each kidney. The amount of blood filtered by each nephron is little. The nephron has a tubule and a filter called a glomerulus. The nephrons do their function in two steps. The glomerulus allows fluid and waste materials to flow through it, but it blocks the passage of blood cells and big molecules, primarily proteins. The filtered fluid then travels through the tubule, which alters it by returning wastes and necessary minerals to the circulation. Urine is produced as the end result.


The kidneys also create a crucial hormone to ward off anemia and regulate the body’s levels of minerals like salt, phosphorus, and potassium. Red blood cell count is abnormally low in anemia, which reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the body’s cells.


What are the reasons for juvenile renal disease?


Children’s kidney disease can be brought on by


  • birth flaws
  • genetic disorders infection
  • kidney disease
  • systemic conditions
  • trauma
  • urine reflux or obstruction


The most likely reasons for kidney failure between birth and age four are birth abnormalities and inherited illnesses. Kidney failure is most frequently brought on between the ages of 5 and 14 by inherited illnesses, nephrotic syndrome, and systemic illnesses. Hereditary disorders become less prevalent as people mature, and glomerulopathies are the main reason for kidney failure between the ages of 15 and 19.


Birth Errors


A birth defect is a condition that develops while the baby is growing within the mother. Kidney birth abnormalities include, among others, renal agenesis, renal dysplasia, and ectopic kidney. The kidneys’ size, shape, or location are abnormal in several situations:


  • children born with one kidney (renal agenesis)
  • Children with renal dysplasia are born with both functioning kidneys, but only one.
  • Children who are born with an ectopic kidney have their kidneys below, above, or to the other side of where they should be.

Children who have these diseases often live full, healthy lives. Nevertheless, certain kids with renal agenesis or renal dysplasia have a higher risk of kidney disease.


Hereditary Conditions


Kidney disorders that run in families are illnesses that are inherited from one parent to the next. One such is polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is characterized by many clusters of malformed sacs that resemble grapes and are filled with fluid and cause both kidneys to enlarge over time. These cysts invade and obliterate functional renal tissue. Alport syndrome is another hereditary illness that is brought on by a gene mutation for the collagen-containing protein that makes up the glomeruli. The kidneys get scarred as a result of the disorder. Alport syndrome often appears in young life and affects boys more severely than girls.In addition to renal damage, the disorder can cause hearing and visual issues.




Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and hemolytic uremic syndrome are two kidney conditions that can appear in children following an infection.


  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that can be found in tainted foods including juice, milk, and meat, and it frequently causes the uncommon condition hemolytic uremic syndrome. When E. coli bacteria that are in the digestive system produce toxins and release them into the bloodstream, hemolytic uremic syndrome ensues. The toxins begin to deplete red blood cells and harm the glomeruli, which are part of the blood vessel lining. Most kids who have an E. coli infection experience vomiting, cramping in their stomachs, and bloody diarrhea for two to three days. Children with hemolytic uremic syndrome are pale, exhausted, and cranky. Kidney failure in certain children with hemolytic uremic syndrome is possible.


  • After a case of strep throat or a skin infection, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis might develop. The Streptococcus bacteria does not directly affect the kidneys; rather, the infection may cause the immune system to create excessive amounts of antibodies. The immune system produces proteins called antibodies. By detecting and eliminating bacteria, viruses, and other potentially hazardous foreign substances, the immune system guards against illness. The kidneys may be harmed when the excess antibodies circulating in the blood eventually lodge in the glomeruli. Though it can take up to 6 weeks, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis often appears between one and three weeks after an untreated infection. The kidneys often recover from post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis within a limited period of time. Kidney injury can occasionally lead to irreversible harm


.Chronic Kidney Disease

A group of signs and symptoms known as nephrotic syndrome point to kidney injury. The following conditions are all a part of nephrotic syndrome:


  • Albuminuria is a condition when a person has excessive levels of albumin, a protein that is generally present in the blood, in their urine.


  • hyperlipidemia—higher-than-normal blood levels of fat and cholesterol


  • Edema is swelling, typically in the hands, face, or ankles, feet, or ankles less frequently.


  • low amounts of albumin in the blood, or hypoalbuminemia

The following disorders can lead to pediatric nephrotic syndrome:


  • The only way to observe the damage to the glomeruli in minimal change illness is using an electron microscope, which is the best form of microscope for seeing minute details. The exact etiology of minimum change sickness is unknown, however some medical professionals speculate that it may follow viral infections, immunizations, and allergic responses.


  • Scarring in sporadic areas of the kidney caused by focal segmental glomerulosclerosis is often confined to a few glomeruli.


  • An accumulation of antibodies on a kidney membrane is a symptom of a category of autoimmune disorders known as Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis. The immune system of the body attacks its own organs and cells as a result of autoimmune disorders.


Systemic Conditions


The kidneys are affected by systemic disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), which affects multiple organs or the entire body:


Lupus nephritis is an autoimmune illness that results in inflammation of the kidneys.

High blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, levels brought on by diabetes speed up blood flow into the kidneys and cause renal scarring. Greater blood pressure is caused by faster blood flow, which stresses the glomeruli and reduces their capacity to filter blood. Diabetic kidney disease is kidney disease brought on by diabetes. Diabetes seldom causes kidney failure in children, despite being the major cause of death in adults.



Burns, dehydration, bleeding, injuries, or surgeries can all result in very low blood pressure, which reduces the amount of blood flowing to the kidneys. Acute renal failure can be brought on by insufficient blood flow.


Urinary obstruction or reflux


Urinary can back it up through into the kidney and harm them if there is a blockage between the urethra and the kidneys. When the valve between the bladder and ureter does not fully close, reflux—urine traveling from the bladder up to the kidney—occurs.

How is pediatric kidney illness identified?


Kidney disease is identified in children by physical examination, medical history inquiry, and assessment of signs and symptoms. The medical professional may request one or several of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:


Test for albumin using a dipstick. Urine containing albumin is a symptom that the kidneys may be in poor condition. Using a dipstick test on a urine sample, albumin in the urine may be found. The urine sample is taken in a designated container in a doctor’s office or other professional setting, and it can either be examined there or sent to a lab for examination.


In a dipstick test, a clinician or technician inserts a dipstick—a strip of paper that has been chemically treated—into the subject’s urine sample. When albumin is present in urine, portions on the dipstick change color.


Albumin-to-creatinine ratio in urine. To confirm renal disease, a more accurate measurement, such as an urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio, may be required. A urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio test, which compares the amounts of albumin and creatinine in urine, is unaffected by variations in urine concentration, in contrast to an albumin dipstick test.


A blood test The estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR, which may be measured using blood taken at a doctor’s office and submitted to a lab for analysis can be used to determine how much blood the kidney filters each minute.


imaging analyses. Images of the kidneys are produced via imaging investigations. The images make it easier for the medical professional to assess the kidneys’ size and form and spot any anomalies.


Kidney biopsy. A little bit of kidney tissue is removed during a kidney biopsy process so that it may be examined under a microscope. The cause of kidney disease and the degree of kidney damage are revealed by the findings of the biopsy.

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