Nephrotic Syndrome

Treating Children with Nephrotic Syndrome

What Is It?

The kidneys normally work like a filter to keep proteins in the blood while waste products get filtered out. When the kidneys do not work properly, the protein leaks out of the blood and into the urine. When a lot of protein leaks out into the urine, it may change how a person looks and affect the results of their blood tests. This is considered nephrotic syndrome.

Nephrotic Syndrome: Important Information to Know

Children may have:

  • High levels of cholesterol in the blood
  • Increased blood pressures
  • Less urine than usual
  • Low levels of protein in the blood
  • Swelling of the body (edema) — often around the eyes, in the belly, or in the legs and feet

Learn more about how the kidneys act like a coffee filter.

Causes

There are diseases of the kidney that cause Nephrotic Syndrome, such as:

  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)
  • Membranous Nephropathy
  • Minimal Change Disease — most common

There is nothing you did as a parent that caused your child to have kidney problems. In fact, these diseases are called “idiopathic,” meaning we do not know why they occur. Nephrotic syndrome may also occur as a result of other medical problems, such as diabetes, cancer, lupus, infection, drugs, allergies and vasculitis.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will order urine and blood tests. Your doctor will also ask questions about your child’s symptoms and do a physical exam.

Procedures

Your doctor may order a renal ultrasound to look at the kidneys.

If your child does not get better while taking prednisone, your child may need a kidney biopsy. During a kidney biopsy, a tiny piece of tissue is removed from the kidney. A doctor will look at the tissue under a microscope. If your child needs a kidney biopsy, they will be sent to Seattle Children's Hospital for treatment and care.

To learn more information about kidney biopsies, read Seattle Children's Hospital's "Kidney Biopsy and Your Child."

Treatments

Treatment will always involve

 
 

Treatment may also involve:

  • Taking prednisone, an immunosuppression medication. Prednisone helps decrease the inflammation of the kidneys. As a result, the kidneys will leak less protein.
  • Taking a diuretic medication to decrease fluid in the body
  • Taking a blood pressure medication to help lower blood pressure
  • Taking an albumin infusion to decrease swelling and puffiness
  • Taking medications to lower cholesterol
  • Taking medications to lower blood pressure

Information

Documents

Low Salt Eating Guidelines 
Low and High Sodium at the Grocery Store 
Nephrotic Syndrome: Important Information to Know
Prednisone

Videos

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Put Your Hands Together"

Helpful Links

Kidcomm Nephrotic Syndrome Parents Place 
Low Salt Foods 
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 
National Kidney Foundation
Nephcure Foundation 
Patient Information: The Nephrotic Syndrome

Books

Coping With Prednisone and Other Cortisone-Related Medicines: It May Work Miracles, but How Do You Handle the Side Effects?
Pocket Guide to Low Sodium Foods