As per discussed in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease can affect individuals in various ways. Children, nonetheless, are not the exception. Just like with adults, kidney disease can affect children in different ways, ranging from treatable, to some extent, conditions or disorders without the already mentioned lasting consequences to really life-endangering complications. Kidney disease, especially acute kidney disease, comes out of nowhere, may even last a short amount of time, may also be serious enough for it to leave children with long-lasting consequence, or may go away after treatment. Chronic kidney disease, however, does not fade away so easily, and it tends to worsen as time passes by. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) eventually evolves into kidney failure, end-stage kidney disease or even end-stage renal failure when dialysis is involved.
Children with chronic kidney disease actually are forced to face many tough and dreary challenges. Some of them include a really negative self-image, some relationship problems, behavioral issues, learning disorders, trouble focusing on what is important, delayed language and motor skills development, amongst others. Children suffering from CKD have shown a much slower growth rate in comparison to their peers; urinary incontinence is also very common.
Are there causes for kidney disease in children?
Kidney disease, regardless of its nature, in children can be caused by several causes: birth defects, hereditary conditions, infections, systemic diseases, trauma, nephrotic syndrome, reflux or urine blockage. From birth to age 5, hereditary conditions alongside birth defects are the most leading causes of kidney diseases and kidney failure. Between ages 6 and 15, kidney failure has been associated mostly with hereditary diseases, the aforementioned nephrotic syndrome and other systemic diseases. After that, between ages 16 and 20, several diseases that affect the glomeruli are the leading cause of acute kidney disease and chronic kidney disease. Hereditary diseases seem to be less common in comparison to early stages of life.
The most common causes explained:
Birth defects and conditions
The term birth defects suggests that a problem has happened while the baby is developing in the womb. Birth defects can range from renal agenesis, to renal dysplasia, and even to ectopic kidneys, just to mention several. These are mainly abnormalities of size, position, and structure of the organs. Generally speaking, children with these diseases can get to live full and healthy lives; nevertheless, some children end up facing much higher odds of developing a much worse kidney disease.
Hereditary conditions or hereditary kidney diseases are those that are passed from parent to children through genes. One example is the commonly referred to as polycystic kidney diseases or PKD, which is often characterized by the presence of many grapelike groups of cysts (fluid-filled cysts, in this case) that make both organs much larger over time. The cysts often destroy the individual or the children’s working healthy and kidney tissue as time passes by. Alongside PKD, Alport Syndrome, which is often caused by a mutation in a gene, is also common in children. The disease leads to scarring of the organ. This syndrome generally appears in early childhood, and it seems to affect boys more than women. Besides, it evolves into, or causes, hearing and vision issues in addition to the original affection.
Aside from the aforementioned syndrome, infections also may end up causing other syndromes as well. Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and hemolytic uremic syndrome are kidney conditions that can develop in children after the presence of a tough infection. The latter is rather a rare condition that is often generated by the E. coli bacteria—mostly found in contaminated foods—. Hemolytic uremic syndrome starts to form when E. coli gets to the digestive tract and the toxins are allowed into the host’s bloodstream. The toxins start to attack the individual’s red blood cells and damage blood vessels while at it. Most children who have E. coli infection often suffer from ongoing episodes of vomiting, stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea for up to three days. They also become pale and show tiredness and irritability. The former, acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, often occurs after episodes of both skin infection or strep throat. The streptococcus bacteria does not go straight for the kidneys; it starts by confusing the immune system, prompting it to produce antibodies in excess. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system. The immune system is responsible for protecting individuals from different infections by assessing and subsequently identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses and other foreign threats. When the body over produces antibodies and these get to the blood and finally end up being allocated in the glomeruli, the kidneys are at open to suffering heavy damage. Most cases develop within 3 weeks after having suffered an untreated infection. It is nonetheless treatable; however, kidney damage may last forever.
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