Kidney Disease & Children. Act Early to Prevent It!
The World Kidney Day Team passionately believes it is important we make the general public aware of kidney diseases which affect millions of people worldwide, including many children who may be at risk of kidney disease at an early age. It is therefore crucial that we encourage and facilitate education, early detection and a healthy life style in children, starting at birth and continuing through to old age, to combat the increase of preventable kidney damage including acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease and to treat children with inborn and acquired disorders of the kidney. So, in our 11th Campaign year, let’s join forces once again to inform parents, caregivers, young patients, policy makers and the general public of the importance of identifying and treating childhood kidney diseases, instilling an awareness of the risks for their future from kidney damage that originates in childhood, therefore building healthier future generations!
Kidney disease can affect children in various ways, ranging from treatable disorders without long-term consequences to life-threatening conditions.
Acute kidney disease (AKI) is a serious condition that develops suddenly, often lasts a short time and may disappear completely once the underlying cause has been treated and if the patient receives the needed medical management, but it can also have long-lasting consequences with life-long problems.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) doesn’t disappear with treatment and tends to worsen over time. CKD eventually leads to kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease) and needs to be treated with a kidney transplant or blood-filtering treatments (dialysis) for life.
Acute Kidney Injury or AKI
An example of AKI is hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. This is a kidney condition that develops when red blood cells are destroyed and block the kidneys’ filtering system. When the kidneys and glomeruli—the tiny units within the kidneys where blood is filtered—become clogged with the damaged red blood cells, they are unable to do their job. If the kidneys stop functioning, a child can develop acute kidney injury—the sudden and temporary loss of kidney function. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a common cause of AKI in children.
Another cause of AKI, including children, is trauma such as burns, dehydration, bleeding, injury or surgery. Trauma can cause very low blood pressure, which in turn can result in insufficient blood supply to the kidneys leading to acute kidney failure.
Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD
CKD in children can be caused by birth defects (e.g. children born with only one kidney or with kidneys with abnormal structures), hereditary diseases (e.g. polycystic kidney disease), infection, nephrotic syndrome (a collection of symptoms with loss of protein in urine and water and salt retention in the body that indicate kidney damage), systemic diseases (involving many organs of the body including the kidneys, such as Lupus), urine blockage or reflux (e.g. problems of the urinary tract and bladder). From birth to age 4, birth defects and hereditary diseases are the leading causes of kidney failure. Between ages 5 and 14, kidney failure is most commonly caused by hereditary diseases, nephrotic syndrome, and systemic diseases. Between ages 15 and 19, diseases that affect the glomeruli are the leading cause of kidney failure.
Children’s kidney diseases are kidney diseases for life. The majority of children with kidney disease progress to end-stage kidney diseases in adulthood.