Nephrotic Syndrome in Children

Nephrotic Syndrome in Children

NS is a serious and debilitating kidney condition that affects around 10,000 people in the UK each year - and many of these sufferers are young children. NS isn’t a disease in itself, it’s a condition that can be caused by a range of different diseases, which damage the glomeruli - the tiny filtering units in the kidneys.

Healthy kidneys act like a sieve, allowing waste products and excess water to be excreted as urine. This process controls the body’s water and salt balance and regulates blood pressure. In Nephrotic Syndrome, there is a problem affecting the sieve mechanism of the kidney. The holes of the sieve enlarge, causing large amounts of protein to leak from the blood into the urine.

How can you help?

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Is there a cure?

In children 80% of cases of Nephrotic Syndrome are caused by Minimal Change Disease (MCD), which can be successfully treated with steroids. However, there are other causes, such as Membranous Nephropathy, or Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and these diseases often persist even with treatment. In these cases, the kidneys may gradually lose their ability to filter waste and excess water from the blood. Kidney failure often occurs, with the patient then needing dialysis, or a kidney transplant.

How is it treated?

Treatment for Nephrotic Syndrome depends upon the underlying cause. For example, when Nephrotic Syndrome is caused by a disease, treating that disease usually relieves the kidney symptoms. Autoimmune disorders are treated with drugs that suppress the immune system’s production of antibodies. Drugs called corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation, may also be used to treat the damaged glomeruli.

What causes NS?

Nephrotic Syndrome can be caused by any disease that causes inflammation of the glomeruli. Minimal Change Disease (MCD) is the most common cause of NS in children. In other cases, the cause appears to be a malfunction of the immune system, which could result from a virus, or autoimmune disorder, such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Other secondary causes of Nephrotic Syndrome include certain cancers, diabetes, allergic reactions to insect bites and infectious illnesses, including hepatitis B.

What are the symptoms?

The most obvious symptom is usually swelling of the ankles and legs. Extra fluid may also build up in the abdomen and around the eyes and face, especially overnight. Other symptoms can include: frothy urine, general feeling of tiredness & raised blood cholesterol. NS is usually diagnosed by a simple dipstick urine test, that confirms protein in the urine (proteinuria).

What is NeST?

NeST is a charity that helps sufferers and families affected by Nephrotic Syndrome (NS). The charity has been set up to increase awareness of NS and to raise money to fund research into a cure for the condition.

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