Polycystic Kidney Disease an Example of Inherited and Congenital Kidney Diseases

Some kidney diseases result from hereditary factors. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), for example, is a genetic disorder in which many cysts grow in the kidneys. The cysts can slowly replace much of the mass of the kidneys, reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure.

Polycystic kidneys kidneys (source: Wikipedia, CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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Some kidney problems may begin even before birth. Examples include autosomal recessive PKD, a rare form of PKD, and other developmental problems that interfere with the normal formation of the nephrons. The signs of kidney diseases in children vary. A child may grow unusually slow, may vomit often, or may suffer from back or side pain. Some kidney diseases may be "silent" for months or even years.

If your child has a kidney disease, your child's doctor should detect this during a regular check-up. Be sure your child sees a doctor regularly. The first sign of a kidney problem may be high blood pressure, a low number of red blood cells (anaemia) as well as blood or protein in the urine. If the doctor finds any of these problems, further tests may be necessary, including additional blood, urine, and imaging tests. In some cases, the doctor may need to perform a biopsy – removing a tiny piece of the kidney to examine it under a microscope.

Some hereditary kidney diseases may not be detected until adulthood. The most common form of PKD was once called "adult PKD" because the symptoms of high blood pressure and renal failure usually do not occur until patients are in their twenties or thirties. But with advances in diagnostic imaging technology, doctors have been able to discover cysts in children and adolescents before any symptoms appear.

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  1. Fauci A, Braunwald E, Kasper DL et al.: Harrison´s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Edition, 2008