Pediatric Kidney Failure

Pediatric kidney failure is a condition in which 85 to 90 percent of kidney function is lost due to a condition or injury. It requires a transplant or dialysis for the kidney to function properly.

What is Pediatric Kidney Failure?

Kidneys play five key roles that are essential for good health:

  1. Remove waste and fluid from the blood
  2. Control blood pressure
  3. Create a hormone that tells bone marrow to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs throughout your body
  4. Keep bones healthy by making an active form of vitamin D
  5. Control pH levels in the body

When various conditions, diseases or injuries erode kidney function enough that kidneys fail, a patient will require a transplant or dialysis to function properly.  

Kidney failure is not sudden, it takes place over time. Kidney failure is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. It’s also known as end stage renal failure or ESRD.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Kidney Failure?

Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps (especially in the legs)
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling of your feet or ankles
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

What are the causes of Pediatric Kidney Failure?

There are several causes of kidney failure at various stages and ages.

Birth to Age 4

  • Abnormalities in the way kidneys formed before birth
  • Hereditary diseases that damage the kidney, such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in which cysts form in kidneys

Ages 5 to 14

  • Hereditary diseases — such as reflux and polycystic kidney disease (PKD).
  • Nephrotic syndrome — Causes high amounts of protein in urine, high fat/cholesterol in the blood, swelling in face and limbs due to water retention, and low levels of albumen in the blood, which keeps the fluid from leaking out of blood.
  • Systemic diseases — Diseases that affect the entire body and can affect the kidney, such as lupus and diabetes.

Ages 15 to 19

Other causes at any age

Pediatric Kidney Failure Doctors and Providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do the kidneys work

    Most people are born with two kidneys. Each kidney is about the size of your fist. The kidney is shaped like a bean.

    Kidneys are located below the ribs on each side of the backbone. Each kidney connects to the bladder by a special tube called a ureter. The ureters connect to the bladder, which holds pee. From the bladder, pee flows out of the body through a tube called the urethra.

  • Why do we need kidneys?

    1. The kidneys clean our blood. As blood flows through the body, it picks up waste from the body and goes through the kidneys. The kidneys get rid of the waste through pee. The kidneys also keep or get rid of extra chemicals in the body.

    These chemicals are called:

    • Potassium
    • Sodium
    • Phosphorous

    2. The kidneys help balance the fluid level of the body. Body fluid is mainly removed in the form of pee.

    3. Kidneys also make important hormones called:

    • Renin to control blood pressure
    • Erythropoietin to make red blood cells
    • Calcitriol (vitamin D) for bone growth