Pediatric Kidney Failure

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.

Expanded Overview

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

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


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.
  • 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:


Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps (especially in the legs)
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling of your feet or ankles
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

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