Shweta was too small a girl to tell her parents that something was wrong with her health. But luckily, her parents found a change in her daily activities. She was then taken to a doctor who diagnosed her with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Treatment began immediately and after a series of dialyses, she was back to normal.
Now, it has been 20 years since she came out of kidney diseases. She has excelled as an art film director, recalls Dr Georgi Abraham, founder trustee, Tamil Nadu Kidney Research Foundation (TANKER). World Kidney Day on March 10 this year has the theme ‘Kidney Disease and Children: Act Early to Prevent It’. The theme says it all: that there is not much awareness about kidney diseases in children. Also, proper treatment and prevention measures are not being taken, say nephrologists.
Over 15-20 children come to SRM Institute for Medical Science (SIMS) with kidney ailments every week. But many people think it’s an adult disease, says Dr M Ram Prabahar, senior consultant, nephrology, SIMS. As much as 4-5% of the population in India is affected by kidney disease.
The prevalence of the disease among children is the same as in adults. Only the factors differ as diabetes, lifestyle and hypertension problems cause kidney disorders in adults. They are mostly due to congenital defects and other infections that are risk factors in children, added Dr Prabahar. Peritoneal dialysis is suitable for children than haemodialysis, but not many government hospitals are doing it. They depend only on Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore. Most of the children affected are from poor families, who are prone to infections, said Dr Abraham.
“Indian children are more susceptible to CKD and how this susceptibility and progression differs from the developed world are critical issues that require a special focus,” added Dr Abraham. In most of the cases, adult kidneys are not suitable for children and there are also a lot of complications in transplanting one to the child. Prevention is the key, says Dr Abraham, who is also a senior consultant, nephrology at Madras Medical Mission.
Parents should not take urinary infections, frequent bed-wetting and less urine output in children lightly. Any of these complaints should be reported to the doctor, said Dr Ram Prabahar.