Kidney problems are no light matter. More than 37 million Americans have kidney problems, including millions of newborn children.
Baby kidney problems in pregnancy can be scary. But they are treatable and curable. Your first step toward helping your baby get better is informing yourself about kidney problems.
What kinds of problems can a fetus develop? How can a doctor diagnose these issues and monitor your fetus’ progress? How can your fetus receive treatment?
Answer these questions and you can have a healthy and happy baby in no time. Here is your quick guide.
Types of Baby Kidney Problems in Pregnancy
A fetus can develop a few different kidney problems. Kidney dysplasia results in a fetus’ kidneys not developing properly.
The ureters are tubes of muscles that grow inside a fetus to produce the kidneys. They form structures called tubules, which collect urine and break down waste products.
During dysplasia, the tubules fail to grow completely. Urine can become trapped inside the ureters, causing them to develop cysts. These cysts may prevent the kidneys from functioning or growing at all.
Prenatal hydronephrosis occurs after the kidneys have developed. The tubules or other parts of the kidneys may become swollen. The valves that allow urine to flow may become blocked, causing urine to flow back into the kidney.
Both dysplasia and hydronephrosis can be fatal. They can also lead to infections that harm the fetus’ growth or scar the kidneys permanently.
Your fetus having a kidney problem does not mean that you have a kidney problem. You can schedule an appointment with your doctor just to make sure you have no issues. But do not worry about your own health if your child develops an issue.
Preventing Kidney Problems
Genetic factors can cause kidney problems in children. You can get a genetic test to see what your fetus’ risk of kidney disease is. Genetic deformities can also cause digestive, heart, and skeletal problems in addition to kidney damage.
Prescription drugs can produce chemicals that damage a fetus’ kidney. You should avoid taking drugs that treat seizures or control your high blood pressure. While you are pregnant, you can pursue therapy and adjust your diet to control your pre-existing condition.
Illegal drugs can also result in kidney problems. Stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or using drugs while you are pregnant. You can go to a drug treatment center to receive therapy.
All pregnant women and people should go to a doctor to monitor their fetus’ progress. You can schedule an appointment with a nephrologist at The Kidney Institute. They can give you advice on how to take care of yourself and your baby.
There is no way to prevent kidney problems completely. Even if you avoid drugs and have no genes that contribute to kidney disease, your fetus may still develop problems. Do not blame yourself and try to stay focused on helping your fetus.
Diagnosing Kidney Disease
A doctor can use an ultrasound to produce images of your fetus. They can spot where your fetus’ kidneys are and compare them with other kidneys.
If they seem abnormal, they will tell you. However, they may need additional ultrasounds in order to determine if your fetus has a kidney problem. You may need to wait a week, so be patient and don’t panic.
At the second ultrasound, a doctor can take images and compare them with images from the first ultrasound. If the kidneys are smaller or more swollen, your fetus may have a kidney problem. Smaller kidneys usually mean dysplasia while swelling usually means hydronephrosis.
Some doctors do not diagnose kidney problems until after the baby is born. A urinary tract infection soon after birth may indicate kidney disease. A doctor can also perform an ultrasound on your child to get images of their kidneys.
Treating Kidney Damage
If your fetus has problems with only one kidney, your doctor may advise you not to pursue treatments. Performing surgery or taking medication can lead to complications. Many cases of dysplasia resolve themselves without issues.
Your doctor may want to run tests to check on your fetus’ health. They can inspect the blood pressure of your fetus and test its blood and urine for issues.
If both kidneys have damage, your doctor may advise other measures. You or your fetus may need antibiotics to prevent kidney infections. A doctor can inject antibiotics directly into the fetus, or they can give you an IV that will circulate antibiotics through your blood.
If your fetus is at risk for kidney failure, a doctor may recommend surgery. The surgery will usually occur after the fetus is born, as surgery on a fetus can lead to complications.
Most surgeries are simple. A surgeon may remove a damaged valve or swollen tissue.
Your baby will need regular doctor’s appointments so their pediatrician can monitor their progress. Most children make a complete recovery from surgery.
The Essentials of Baby Kidney Problems
Baby kidney problems in pregnancy can occur in any fetus. A fetus can have underdeveloped kidneys, or the kidneys can become swollen or clogged.
Many kidney problems in children occur due to genetics and drugs. But most fetuses develop problems for no apparent reason.
A doctor can diagnose issues using ultrasounds and other imaging technology. Waiting it out can resolve your fetus’ problems, yet you may need to take antibiotics to prevent infections.
You can keep your baby’s health intact with the facts. Read more guides to baby kidney health by following our coverage.