Pediatric Urology and Nephrology Issues are More Common Than You’d Think

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By: Deepak Rajpoot, M.D., medical director, pediatric nephrology, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach

Pediatric urological and renal conditions constantly present parents with challenges, not only because the symptoms of these conditions are mostly hidden, but also because parents don’t realize how common some of these conditions can be.

Pediatric urological and renal conditions are issues involving a child’s urinary tract and reproductive organs, which include kidneys, bladder and urethra.

There are an abundance of different urological and renal conditions out there but some of the more common conditions in kids are renal tubular acidosis, polycystic kidney disease and urinary tract infections.

Renal tubular acidosis (RTA) is a condition that involves an accumulation of acid in your child’s blood due to a failure of the kidneys to remove excess acid from your child’s blood into their urine. Some of the most common symptoms of RTA are pain in the back or side that spreads to the lower abdomen, pain while urinating, poor weight gain and decreased urination. If this condition is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner this condition may lead to kidney failure. Some of the factors that can cause RTA are too much acid in your child’s body, high blood calcium or the use of certain prescription drugs.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder in which many fluid-filled cysts develop in your child’s kidneys. PKD is a genetic disorder that affects more than 500,000 people in the U.S. If one parent has this disorder, the chance of passing it down to your child is 50 percent. Other health issues that could develop if your child has PKD are high blood pressure, back pain and headaches.

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are bacterial infections that develop in your child’s urinary tract. UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body – accounting for more than eight million visits to health care providers each year. Some of the most common symptoms of a UTI are a burning sensation when urinating, passing frequent, small amounts of urine and strong-smelling urine. UTIs can be prevented by not holding urine in for long periods of time and by drinking lots of water each day to keep the bladder active and bacteria free.

Even though these are three of the most common conditions, every pediatric urological and renal condition makes itself known in different ways. Some of the most common signs of a urological or renal condition are:

  • Pain during passing urine
  • Frequent bed wetting
  • Blood in urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Swelling around the eyes, face, feet and ankles
  • Significant increase in the frequency of urination

If any of these signs present themselves some common tests that can are performed on kids to help diagnose their urological or renal conditions include:

  • VCUG – voiding cysto urethrogram
  • Ultrasound
  • MAG3 scan

When it comes to pediatric urological or renal conditions two things that parents can do to help their children: be aware and communicate. Remember kids might not be able to communicate what is going on with their body or they might be scared. If parents are aware of these signs they can ensure their child gets the care they need sooner.

If your child presents signs of any urological or nephrology condition, call your pediatrician as your child may require pediatric urologist or nephrologist.

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