Minimal change disease in children

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Minimal change disease in children

Question

My 18-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with minimal change kidney disease. What can you tell me about this condition?

Jim
Minnesota

Answer

Minimal change disease is the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in children. Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by swelling of the skin around the eyes, feet and hands and by high levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria), low levels of protein in the blood and high cholesterol. Nephrotic syndrome results from damage to the small blood vessels (glomeruli) in the kidneys (glomerulonephritis).

Minimal change disease is so named because the kidney tissue appears normal or nearly normal under a microscope. The cause of kidney damage typically can't be determined.

A doctor may confirm a diagnosis of minimal change disease by a kidney biopsy and examination of kidney tissue with an electron microscope, which provides greater magnification than does a standard light microscope.

Treatment of minimal change disease may include:

  • Restricting salt intake
  • Diuretics
  • Steroids, usually oral prednisone

In young children, proteinuria often goes away within four weeks of starting prednisone. But in older children, it may take longer. If steroid treatment is ineffective, your child's doctor may recommend further testing before changing medications.

Last Updated: 04/10/2006
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