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Kidney problems in children

urinary system showing kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethraThe kidneys are part of the urinary tract system. They are two bean-shaped organs that sit just below your ribs, one on each side of your spine. Their job is to remove waste and water from your blood. The extra fluid and waste that they remove are passed along to your bladder through tubes (ureters) and then out of the body as urine through another tube (urethra).

Most people are born with two kidneys, though some people have just one. If you only have one kidney, and it's healthy, you will not have any problems.

This page has information about some of the problems that tamariki (children) can get with their kidneys. See the pages in the Kidneys section to learn more about healthy kidneys and how they work

Causes of kidney problems in children

Many different conditions can affect the kidneys of tamariki children . Some are temporary and can be treated, while others can have more long-term effects. Causes of kidney problems for tamariki include:

Some diseases that can cause kidney damage include:

These diseases can all damage the kidneys' filtering system, causing them to leak protein. If too much protein is leaked it can cause nephrotic syndrome.

Some diseases of the kidney do not show up until later in life or after a tamaiti (child) has a bacterial infection or an immune disorder

Diagnosing kidney problems in children

There are few if any signs of early kidney disease. Some tamariki have mild puffiness around their eyes and face, or foamy wee (urine).

As kidney problems progress, they may have symptoms including:

Make an appointment to see your GP if your tamaiti child has any of these symptoms. Your GP will take a history of the symptoms, do an examination and may check the blood pressure of your tamaiti as it is very important that it is in a healthy range.

They may do several tests to see if there really is a kidney problem. These tests might include:

Your GP may refer your tamaiti to a doctor that specialises in children's health (paediatrician).

Treating kidney problems in children

The treatment will depend on what is causing the kidney problems for your tamaiti. For example, if they have an infection, they will be given antibiotics to treat the infection. If they have a birth defect, it may be possible to fix the defect with surgery. If their kidneys are damaged, treatment will aim to control the symptoms and stop or slow down any further damage.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2022.


See also:

Polycystic kidney disease


Urinary reflux

Urinary tract infection in children

Page reference: 119687

Review key: HIKPC-119687