Fact Sheets

  • What do your kidney’s do?

    The kidneys are two fist-sized organs found in the lower back. When working well, they act as your body’s master chemist by cleaning the blood and getting rid of waste products as well as excess salt and water. However, when diseased, the kidneys may get rid of things that a body needs to keep, such as blood cells and protein.

  • What is Nephrotic Syndrome?

    Nephrotic syndrome affects thousands of children in the United States. This illness occurs when the kidney loses protein in the urine. This causes the protein level in the blood to drop and water moves into body tissues, resulting in swelling (edema). Parents often notice the swelling around the child’s eyes, in the belly, or in the legs. Your child will also not go to the bathroom as often as usual and will gain weight with the swelling. Doctors will take a urine sample to monitor your child’s protein levels in the blood.

  • Do other kidney diseases cause edema and protein in the urine?

    Yes, edema and protein in the urine are common in other types of kidney disease.

  • What causes nephrotic syndrome?

    In the majority of cases, the cause is not known. However the National Kidney Foundation and pediatric nephrologists across the country are actively researching nephrotic syndrome.

  • Who gets it?

    Most often the illness affects young children between the ages of 1 ½ and 5. Boys also appear to be more susceptible to nephrotic syndrome.

  • How can I tell if my child has it?

    • swelling around your child`s eyes

    • swelling in the ankles, feet or belly

    • difficulty using their hands due to swelling

    • more tired

    • more irritable

    • eating less

    • pale looking

  • How is nephrotic syndrome treated?

    Most often, your doctor will start your child on a drug called prednisone. (link to fact sheet here) Prednisone helps stop the loss of protein from the blood. After several weeks of treatment your child will begin to urinate more, thus bringing down the swelling.

  • Can nephrotic syndrome be cured?

    Some children only experience one nephrotic syndrome attack in their lifetime. Others have two or more attacks, but never suffer long term kidney damage. To prevent attacks, parents and physicians control the swelling with medication. Remember, your child can have a long healthy life with this disease.

  • How can parents help?

    Help keep your child’s activities as normal as possible. Let them be a kid, but just oversee their care. Watch their salt intake to prevent further swelling. Volunteer with the Emory Pediatric Nephrology Division or other organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation.



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