Pediatric Chronic Kidney Disease

Understanding pediatric chronic kidney disease

Over the past 20 years, cases of pediatric chronic kidney disease have been rising steadily, and the condition has become a concern for many pediatric doctors. So, why is pediatric chronic kidney disease rising?

Chronic kidney disease (CDK) in children is typically a situation whereby the kidneys are permanently damaged. This decreases the function of the kidneys, and it worsens over time. It's also known as chronic kidney failure or chronic renal disease, and it affects children of all ages and races.

The main concerns of children with this condition are anemia, blood pressure, diet, and growth. CDK requires parents to monitor their kids as they tend to fall sick at times.

What causes CKD in kids?

The causes of chronic kidney disease in kids are different from those of adults. In infants and children, some of the common causes include hereditary diseases, congenital abnormalities, and birth defects. If your child gets urinary tract infections, immediate treatment is needed as they might lead to CKD.

Teenagers who are above 12 years old get CKD due to a condition known as glomerulonephritis, inflammation of the kidneys. There are also other conditions, such as nephrotic syndrome, that may cause damage to the kidneys. Other diseases, such as lupus, cause problems to many body organs and are likely to affect the kidney, too.

Other possible causes of pediatric chronic kidney disease includes reflux nephropathy, obstructive uropathy, hypoplastic or dysplastic kidneys, and polycystic kidney disease.

So, if your child happens to suffer from any of the above conditions, close monitoring is important to ensure they don't affect the kidneys, leading to CKD.

Signs and symptoms of CKD

When it's mild, kidney disease tends to go undetected, but children are usually at a greater risk due to the nature of the causes of CKD. 70 per cent of cases of CKD in children are associated with tubulointerstitial disease and may not show the obvious symptoms such as hypertension, edema, and hematuria.

This means some children may not beware of the changes happening in their body until an adult notices something new about them. Swelling of the hands and feet and eye puffiness are common symptoms. The swelling may inconvenience the child's normal movements.

You'll also notice your kid has reduced appetite for food, and they may also have increased or decreased frequency of urination. The urine will turn to red or a dark color, and this can be long-lasting. Regular headaches due to high blood pressure are also common symptoms.

Your kid may also experience flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. In some cases, you'll notice your child has stunted growth when compared to his or her age-mates. Also, they'll have difficulty in concentrating in class. A decrease in production of red blood cells will lead to anemia.

If a family has a history of CKD, it's likely that a child may get it, too.

Medical diagnosis of CKD

There are many ways that doctors diagnose chronic kidney disease in children. In some cases, kidney problems can be detected at birth during an ultrasound. Based on the child's symptoms, a urinalysis will be conducted to check the presence of protein in the urine, which might be an indication of kidney damage.

Blood tests are also important in showing red blood cell counts, kidney function level and blood chemical levels. Ultrasounds and X-rays may show if there is damage to the kidney or other surrounding parts. The doctor may also perform a kidney biopsy to examine the cause and extent of the condition.

Treatment of CKD

To the point that a child gets CKD, the condition is already permanent and cannot be cured. The focus of treatment is usually to slow the progression and development of the disease and prevent any other conditions.

Doctors usually attempt to treat the condition that is causing CKD and control the symptoms. Some treatment options may include medications to help with growth, diuretic therapy to increase urination, diet restrictions, dialysis, and kidney transplantation.

Kids with CKD require routine care, including diet and medications. The treatment plan may involve various professionals, such as a pediatrician, pediatric nephrologist, and a pediatric urologist, to ensure the child gets all the support they need. Emotional support from parents and loved ones is also an important part of the treatment plan.