People often associate kidney disease with older adults; however, as Dr. Marva Moxey-Mims of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says, parents need to be concerned about their children’s kidney health, too.
“People tend not to realize just how much our kidneys do. In addition to eliminating wastes and excess water, our kidneys help to keep our bones strong in addition to making the hormone that stimulates our bone marrow to make red blood cells (preventing anemia),” said Dr. Moxey-Mims, NIH Director of Pediatric Nephrology.
For adults and children alike, testing is the key.
The National Kidney Disease Education Program (NKDEP) NKDEP offers parents Is My Child at Risk for Kidney Disease, a free brochure that includes simple proactive steps that parents can take, such as:
Requesting a test at your child’s doctor appointment. “There is a very simple test that can be used to check for kidney damage, if your child is at risk,” said Dr. Moxey-Mims. “With children, doctors generally start with a urine test—it is less traumatic than a blood test. If the urine test shows abnormalities, a blood test follows. Additionally, parents should ask if their child is growing normally, ensuring that their weight and height are within normal range.” Children who were born prematurely tend to be at higher risk for developing kidney disease —parents should be aware of that and ensure that the pediatrician monitors this closely.
Monitoring blood pressure. At doctor’s appointments, children who are 3 years and older should have their blood pressure checked every year. Although there’s no single “normal” reading as in adults, parents should ensure that the blood pressure is normal based on the child’s age and gender—boys tend to have higher blood pressure than girls.
Increasing activity and healthy eating. Because many children are being diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure at an earlier age, Dr. Moxey-Mims suggests increased activity and healthy eating. Also, Dr. Moxey-Mims shared that if there is a family history of these diseases, parents should be sure to ask the pediatrician to evaluate their child, because they are at potential risk for developing kidney disease.
Parents can help their children stay kidney healthy!