Kidneys might not be high up on the list of health worries parents have about their children, but Siloam ASRI pediatric nephrology specialist Dr. Ina Chandra ekajaya said they should be.
“Kidney diseases or disturbances to the function of the kidney can happen to children too,” she told The Jakarta Post during an interview. “In fact, about 30 percent of kidney diseases among children are congenital.”
These problems range from conditions that resolve on their own to ones that need treatment or surgery, and there are several disorders with long-term consequences.
FROM THE WOMB
On average, one out of every 100 babies suffers from hydronephrosis, a condition where the kidney swells due to fluid retention caused by a blockage, such as an anatomic abnormality.
An ultrasound can often reveal whether a fetus has swollen or dilated kidneys. A doctor may also suspect the problem during birth if the mother hasexcessamnioticfluid.Thiscan be caused by the fetus’hyper retention of fluids, which eventually get excreted in the womb.
Depending on the severity and cause of the condition, treatment can involve antibiotics or even surgery after the baby is born. In the majority of cases, the condition will resolve on its own.
According to Dr. Chandra ekajaya, “It’s still importantto get an early diagnosis so we can determine if treatment is needed before complications oc-cur, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).”
As our children grow up, parents should be aware of how hygiene and nutrition can affectthe kidneys.
Dr. Chandra ekajaya explains several risk factors associated with hygiene:
“The risk for infection is higher for uncircumcised boys because their excretory system is less hygienic. Children who are not properly toilet trained are also at higher risk, as they tend to retain their feces longer, increasing the risk of bacteria from the anus contaminating excretory pathways.” Children who delay or postpone going to the toilet and Have a high amount of urine retention also face a higher risk.”
Lack of proper water intake can also cause infections because water is essential for the kidneys to eliminate waste and toxins. Doctors say a lack of water is the leading cause of kidney stones. Drinking lots of water is highly recommended to reduce the risk UTIs.
AVOIDING DRUGS AND INFECTIONS
Accidental drug poisoning can also cause kidney problems, which is why parents have to be careful to keep medicine out of children’s reach.
“Different drugs are metabolized in different body organs, some in the liver and some of them are processed in the kidneys,” Dr. Chandra ekajaya said.
“This is why doctors also have to be very careful when prescribing a medication for a patient, in order to make sure that the amount is not too excessive to be metabolized properly.”
A number of kidney problems can be caused by infectious diseases, such as malaria, which can cause kidney failure. While an acute kidney injury as a complication of malaria is rare and more common among adults than children, its mortality rate can be as high as 45 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
A common bacterial infection, strep throat, can lead to acute glomerulonephritis, an active inflammation in the glomeruli, which forms part of the kidney’s basic filtration system. If not treated properly, this can lead to acute renal failure or the breakdown of kidney functions.
Do not delay a trip to the doctor if your children exhibit any symptoms of kidney infections, such as pain or difficulty urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, inexplicable low-grade fever, lower back pain or persis-tent abdominal pain and/or an inability to control the bladder.
Doctors will usually start with a urine analysis to determine whether there is any kidney damage.Tests look for the amount of albumin protein in the urine because healthy kidneys should not allow protein in the urine.
A blood test may also be required to calculate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), the rate at which the kidneys filter blood each minute. The lower the rate, the worse the kidney function is.
No Kidding: Pay Attention to Your
Doctors may also order a renal ultrasound, a non-invasive diagnostic tool that generates images of the kidneys. It can show whether there are cysts, obstructions, flu-id collection or infections in and around the kidneys.
Depending on the condition, treatment can be as simple as requiring medication oras serious as requiring a kidney transplant.
For children who suffer from kidney infections, antibiotics are in order. For kidney diseases due to autoimmune conditions, doctors will typically prescribe immunosuppressant medications, which inhibit the activities of the body’s immune system.
Overtime, multiple infections could result in scars, which can cause kidney functions to decline. At a certain point, if left untreated, this can lead to kidney failure. A person is diagnosed with kidney failure when their GFR is below 15 mL/minute.
When patients reach this point, they will have to go through hemodialysis. During dialysis your blood is slowly pumped out of your body, passed through a filter that removes waste products and extra fluids and then pumped back in to your body.
Patients, however, cannot rely on regular dialysis as a long term solution, as it does not perform all the work of a healthy kidney. Dialysis can also cause complications such as anemia, arrhythmia, low blood pressure or infections.
A more lasting solution is to undergo a kidney transplant. However, Dr. Chandra ekajaya admitted that it can be quite challenging to find a compatible organ donor even from relatives.
“Our organs, however, have an amazing way of adapting,”she said. “People who live with only one kidney can survive, as the remaining organ can expand to accommodate the whole body.”
Even with our body’s ability to adapt to one kidney it is still critical to maintain healthy kidney function. It is important to seek medical care if your child exhibits any of the symptoms of kidney infection mentioned earlier.