Kidney Disease in Children

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.

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Hereditary conditions

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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Recipe to permanently damage your kidneys

Generally, people who have never suffered from kidney problems often underestimate the importance of the kidneys. For this reason, people seem indifferent to the danger of some of their unhealthy lifestyle habits and food, which represent a real threat to these vital organs, especially because, in case people suffer a kidney issue (such as kidney stones,) the body can actually live with 20% of its renal capacity, and the damage may be unnoticed for years before any symptoms manifest. So, in this post, you will find a perfect recipe to permanently damage your kidneys (and please, read it in the opposite sense.)

Do not empty your bladder so often

Maybe you don’t have time to go to the toilet so often. If your occupations don’t allow it, then pay attention to your busy schedule and forget for a moment that annoying need to empty your bladder obsessively. Put back as much as you can that useless call of nature and focus on the essentials. The hypertrophy of the detrusor muscle could be a myth without evidence. All that old people with diapers are scary stories to sensitize patients. Formation of diverticula? Is it possible that stop attending number 1 is related to this? Nah. Possibly, hydronephrosis (ie, increased urine pressure in the kidneys) is not related to it either. If, ultimately, there is a kidney failure, and even the need for dialysis, no one knows if there is a real cause and effect relationship here. So take it easy with that.

Read also: Renal Compensation, Kidney Disease, and Nutrition: What To Eat and What To Avoid, by Joe Cosgrove

Become a fan of salt

It’s not a secret that the salt is behind the best flavor of meals, so enjoy it. The maximum recommended dose of salt per day is only 1500 milligrams, but nobody will say anything if you get a little more excited about that. They say that when people consume more than this amount, salt begins to accumulate in the kidneys causing the malfunction of these, but what do doctors know, right? So, don’t restrict yourself with the salt shaker or the delicious processed foods such as sausages, canned, frozen, and fast foods. The sodium levels in the nutritional information lose their powers if you ignore them. You only live once!

Anti-inflammatory medicines

The consumption for years of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is not at all a threat to your kidneys or your renal system. Also: Nobody is to blame for suffering from inflammations: These simply happen. So, meet the needs of your body and move on with your life. Medical instructions may be exaggerated. Google could be your best health advisor (it’s all-knowing Google, after all,) and you could even run an excellent self-medication if you research enough. Some people say that anti-inflammatory medications can irreversibly damage the kidneys. They say that aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol are terribly harmful to kidney functions. Even antibiotics … but we all know that people say all kinds of things. Don’t be confused and stop suffering, please.

Thanks for smoking

Even grandmothers say that smoking is bad for all the organs of the human body, and it’s especially harmful to the kidneys, but everyone forgets that people smoked more in the past, and they didn’t die of kidney problems (there were wars, antibiotics had not been discovered, and there were tuberculosis epidemics … but that’s another subject!) However, if you think smoking is the main cause of end-stage kidney disease, then don’t smoke a whole cigarette but only half: The odds will decrease by half. It’s math!


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Stop worrying about sedentary lifestyle

“How many hours a day do you remain on your chair?” Maybe you have no more patience to hear that question again. Simply, you spend the hours you need or want to remain seated! You have work to do, you need the infinite entertainment provided by the Internet, so leave the exercise aside. Do you really think that sedentary lifestyle affects little by little, not only the health of your kidneys but many other basic functions of the body? Well, if you really think so, look for an online sports game, and, because of the placebo effect, you’ll feel better. Stop playing sports might not affect your kidneys, while an accident on the street could do it. Don’t leave the comfort of your office and home, please. If someone asks that ridiculous question again, answer with wisdom: “Athletes also die.”

Less water, more liquor

They say that it’s necessary to drink more than ten glasses of water per day, but they forget that the excess water is also harmful. There are doctors who say that water allows the flow of blood to the kidneys to be reduced, avoiding kidney failure and retention of toxins inside the body, but that could be a theory. Also, water may be dirty, while the alcohol is always quite clean. They say it’s good for the heart, so take advantage. Although the excess alcohol stores uric acid in the renal tubules, causing tubular obstruction and increasing the risk of kidney failure, who has the final word on ‘excess,’ anyway?

Recommended: Is Coffee Bad for Kidneys?

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Renal Compensation, Kidney Disease and Nutrition: What To Eat and What To Avoid

Individuals with end-stage renal disease are often prompted to follow a special diet and pay special attention to what they eat and what they should especifically avoid. As per discussed in previous articles by Joe Cosgrove, a renal diet is always recommendable for those patients with any sort of renal disease or kidney failure. End-stage renal disease and kidney failure patients often, if not always, are required to follow a specific nutrition plan and diet simply because their kidneys are not working properly, thusly making it more difficult for the organs to process certain foods. Thus, following a tailored diet puts less effort on the kidneys and, moreover, may actually improve the individual’s overall health.

Even if an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, it is of high importance to stick with a renal nutrition plan specially tailored to improve the individual’s kidney function in order to prevent further decay. A renal nutrition plan seeks to reduce the intake of several nutrients such as protein and phosphorus alongside other elements such as potassium, calcium, and sodium. By sticking with a renal diet, individuals and patients with kidney disease can definitely lower the amount of toxins and waste products the body accumulates in order to improve organ function.

Pay special attention to minerals


Sodium can be found in the vast majority of the foods, and, moreover, it is often added to highlight some flavors. Most individuals believe that salt and sodium are the same; however, salt is actually the compound byproduct of chloride and sodium. Sodium is one of the body’s most important electrolytes and it helps monitor and control the balance of the body and its cells. It helps the body carry out some of its basic functions: it regulates blood pressure, nerve function and muscle contraction, acid-base balance, balances the amount of fluids that the body needs to either keep or eliminate, among others. In order to keep an eye on sodium intake, there are some things individuals can do: they can always go through food labels in order to determine the amount of sodium, they can pay attention to servings and, of course, abstain themselves from buying prepackaged meat and all types of processed foods. Choosing to cook at home using fresh ingredients is also a good way to monitor mineral intake.


Aside from sodium, potassium is one of the body’s basic needs. This mineral plays a major role in keeping a regular heartbeat and the muscles working as they should. Potassium also helps the body maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the blood. Kidneys help the body keep an adequate balance of this mineral in the body. Individuals with renal disease and end-stage kidney failure often struggle to maintain these levels, and since the kidney can no longer complete this task properly, the accumulation and buildup of potassium may lead to a condition commonly referred to as hyperkalemia, which can be diagnosed should the patient start showing symptoms such as muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat. In order to better monitor potassium intake, individuals can always come up with a diet plan with the help of a dietitian, limit foods with high a high potassium content, limit all sorts of dairy products, eat fruits and vegetables and stay away from any salt substitute and seasonings with high potassium content.


Phosphorus stands out as one of the body’s most important mineral as it is responsible for bone maintenance and development. It also plays a key role in developing other organs and connective tissue. Phosphorus is also involved in muscle movement. People with end-stage kidney disease or any issue related with kidney function often experience imbalances in the mineral which has been related to worsening kidney function as it may lead the body to accumulate phosphorus in the blood. An increase in phosphorus levels can take calcium away from the bones, thusly making them much weaker, and the subsequent increase of calcium in the bloodstream often ends up being allocated in other organs or blood vessels.

In order to better monitor the intake of this mineral, patients, and individuals, in general, can start learning which foods are rich in phosphorus—such as meat, fast food, canned fish, and cheese—, eat smaller servings and pay special attention to PHOS in labels.



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What foods should individuals with renal disease include in their diet plans?

According to a study, and aside from the aforementioned words of advice, adding fruits and vegetables to an individual’s diet may help protect the organs from further deterioration. In the western hemisphere, a diet commonly consists of animal and grain foods, which are highly acidic. When an individual suffers from any type of kidney disease, the body is unable to get rid of the toxins and the excess acid found in the body, which is why some patients suffer episodes of metabolic acidosis. The idea is to increase the intake of less-acidic foods in hopes of alkalizing the body, thusly helping patients preserve, to some extent, a much better organ function.

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