Taking care of your kidneys, and also of the youngest ones’

Renal disease, those that affect the kidneys are not an issue just for adults. Younger children also suffer. A reality that sometimes is hidden and has led to devote this year’s World Kidney Day to preventing diseases that affect children.

Under the slogan Kidney Disease and Children, act quickly to prevent it, the Spanish Association of Paediatric Nephrology has developed a decalogue for the prevention and early diagnosis of kidney damage. A few simple guidelines, according to Dr. Gema Ariceta, Head of Vall d’Hebron Paediatric Nephrology Service, noted that “the prevention and early diagnosis are vital to kidney diseases of children, but there is a lack of awareness of the factors that can indicate the presence of them.” The decalogue recalls that half of these diseases may already be present at birth and can be diagnosed during pregnancy; as well as an active lifestyle, a balanced diet and avoiding abuse of sugary drinks can help prevent them. Dr. Ariceta explains that “water is the best drink for hydration” and coincides with the decalogue in pointing out the importance of paediatricians measuring children’s blood pressure. “It is one of the main indicators of kidney problems in the paediatric age group.” In this sense, Vall d’Hebron organizes activities with the children and their families to promote these guidelines.

A pioneer Hospital in paediatric nephrology

The Vall d’Hebron Paediatric Nephrology began in 1966 and was the first of its kind in the state, becoming a reference centre for assistance and training in paediatric nephrology. In 1970, the first paediatric haemodialysis in Spain was performed, in 1981 the first paediatric kidney transplant, and in 1994 the first set of liver and kidney. Since 2008 is accredited as a CSUR reference unit for paediatric transplantation. In fact, last year there were 12 paediatric kidney transplants performed.

The portfolio of services offered allows it to comprehensively treat all nephrourological pathology of paediatric patients and provide the techniques, procedures and advanced therapies possible, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, and kidney transplant from deceased or alive donors. It is about children with highly complex diseases and kidney minority diseases. This is achieved by a multidisciplinary team of highly qualified and valuable human medical professionals, nurses and attendants. The strategic lines of the service include the creation of a regulated transfer model from paediatric patients to the service of adults and the aspects of social and family changes.

The research

The group of renal pathophysiology of Vall d’Hebron Research Institute, led by Dr. Anna Meseguer, and in close collaboration with Dr. Ariceta, is currently leading two projects for rare diseases that affect the kidney and manifested in children. Dent’s disease  and Familiar Hypomagnesaemia  are two genetic-based diseases affecting the renal tubule and for which there is no treatment available at this time. These diseases progress to end-stage renal disease requiring, in some cases, transplantation in a very early age of life. The group is working to find out what are the mechanisms of progression of the disease in each case, in order to find targets and therapeutic solutions for these patients.

The involvement of associations of patients as Asdent, in the case of Dent’s disease, and Hipofam, in the case of the Familiar Hypomagnesaemia, in addition to giving financial support to move forward with these projects, they motivate to continue looking for solutions for the children affected and their families. On the occasion of World Kidney Day it is important to note the appreciation to these associations and to the cooperation of all donors of micropatronage to promote research and support the research group, very motivated in the study of diseases that start in the paediatric age but persist throughout the life of the patients.