World Kidney Day was recently celebrated on 10th March, 2016 with the theme ‘Kidney Disease and Children; ‘Act early to prevent it’. Kidney disease affects millions of people worldwide; not only adults but can also affect children who may be at risk at an early age. It is therefore crucial that we understand the importance of early detection and a healthy life style in children. Parents need to be aware of this increased prevalence in children and move towards averting such in their kids.
What do the kidneys do?
The kidneys filter your blood, removing wastes and extra water to make urine. They also help control blood pressure and make hormones that your body needs to stay healthy. When the kidneys are damaged, wastes can build up in the body. 
How common is kidney failure in children?
National Health and Nutrition and Examination Survey data from 1999 to 2006 estimated the incidence of CKD among adults at 26,000,000 of a population base of 200 million, with millions more at risk. The prevalence of CKD in children is unknown, but it is estimated at 82 cases per million per year.. Although the risk of kidney failure rises with age, kidney failure affects 1-2 kids in every 100,000 aged 19 years and below in the United States. In Nigeria, there is a paucity of materials on the prevalence of CKD in children but it is touted to be about 8% locally and increasing over the years.
Types of kidney failure
There are two types; acute and chronic kidney failure.
Acute kidney injury/failure occurs within a few hours, days or weeks whilechronic kidney failure occurs after 3 months of assault and it is irreversible. Most times requires dialysis or a transplant.
Causes of kidney failure in children
Most times it is caused by birth defects, inherited disorders, infection, tumors or assaults to the kidneys. Obesity is becoming common in children and increases their risk of hypertension and diabetes which are two risk factors. Similarly,the careless use of chemicals/insecticides/pesticides poses a serious threat to the kidneys of our children.
Symptoms you need to check out for and report immediately to your family physician include:
- unresolved pain in the back, side, or lower belly
- complaints of burning sensation or pain when urinating, changes in the urine, or often wets his or her pants
- has unexplained fever
- has swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs
- wakes up with swollen eyelids
- becomes dehydrated often
- has a family member with kidney disease
Preventing kidney failure
To prevent your children from becoming preys or culprits to this monster, it is important to observe and do the following;
Start from the womb.
A simple ultrasound scan can detect abnormal development going on with the kidneys such as urine pipe blockage, backward flow of urine, water in the kidneys, presence of abnormal sacs and growths. Most of these conditions can lead to kidney failure later but if detected early, surgery can help.
Take your child for regular checks.
With improved technology, 3D ultrasound scan, CT scan and MRI can detect some other hidden conditions such as horse-shoe kidneys, complete absence of kidneys, duplication of ureters. Alport disease and Batten disease are inherited diseases.
Watch their weights.
Mind what goes into their mouth, whether food, drugs or other ingestible items. Obesity is at fault, so stop pumping your kids with unhealthy pastries and other junks. Never give aspirin to children as it can lead to reye’s syndrome ‘damage to the Liver’, which can have a rebound effect on the kidneys.
Keep children away from bad air: There is so much pollutants in the air, car exhausts, fire wood smoke, especially that from tobacco. A study showed 50% of children who passive-smoked (stayed in smoking zones) ended up with chronic kidney disease.
Demystify traditions: Herbs, herbs and herbs! In our society, many parents still believe in the power of herbs (Agbo). Even from birth, Infants are given ‘agbo’ to drink, bath with and rub on the body. Most times these herbs contain toxic chemicals that destroy kidney tissues.
Minimize exposure to pesticides/insecticides: Some aerosol sprays (insecticides) were originally designed as pesticides especially in developing countries and constant exposure to this chemical actually affects the body. Check the labels properly.
Treat illnesses on time: Urinary tract infections, diabetes and sickle cell anaemia, if not managed on time, can lead to dehydration, shock, chronic kidney disease and even death. Diarrhoea/excessive stooling in infants which sometimes is related to teething, if allowed to take hold of the children can lead to severe dehydration and cause renal shut down.
Seek early referral and treatment
Once you notice 2 or more of these symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, frequent headache, tiredness, blood in urine and infections to mention a few, seek a nephrologist (a kidney doctor). They can manage the condition with diet modifications, drugs, dialysis and transplant as a final option.
Most importantly we should remember that “if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself. When God lives and breathes in you, you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” (Romans 8:11). However live wisely and eat right.
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