What Is Nephrotic Syndrome in Children?

Childhood nephrotic syndrome is a group of symptoms that indicate kidney damage resulting from the release of too much protein into the urine from the body. This protein is called albumin, and it indicates there is inflammation or damage in the kidneys.

Children with nephrotic syndrome may have:

  • High albumin levels in the urine
  • Low protein levels in the blood
  • Edema/tissue swelling, especially in the abdomen
  • Excess fluid that causes weight gain
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Less urine production
  • Low sodium levels

Causes of Nephrotic Syndrome in Children

Most children with this syndrome have idiopathic nephrotic syndrome, meaning there is no known cause. For some, nephrotic syndrome is caused by a congenital abnormality present at birth. The outcome for congenital nephrotic syndrome is poor.

Symptoms of Pediatric Nephrotic Syndrome

Children with this syndrome may have different symptoms, which can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Decreased hunger
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling in the belly or face
  • Foamy urine
  • Body fluid buildup
  • Pale fingernails
  • Dull hair
  • Food intolerance/allergies

It’s important that you take your child to see their doctor for a diagnosis, because symptoms of nephrotic syndrome can be similar to many other conditions.

Diagnosing Nephrotic Syndrome

If your child’s healthcare provider suspects nephrotic syndrome, they will perform a medical exam and take a health history and may order tests such as:

  • Urine test. This test checks protein levels in the urine.
  • Blood tests. These tests check for cholesterol and albumin (a blood protein).
  • Renal ultrasound. This noninvasive, painless test is done by placing a device over the belly called a transducer. It produces images on the screen of the kidneys to check for growths, kidney stones, cysts, or other problems.
  • Renal biopsy. A small sample of kidney tissue is looked at under a microscope.

Treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome in Children

Depending on your child’s symptoms, age and overall health, treatment varies.

Medication to reduce swelling may treat the initial symptoms. Such medications may include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Diuretics

Some children need to spend time in the hospital to monitor their swelling, or if they have blood pressure or breathing difficulties. Ourpediatric nephrology experts provide excellent care for children who need to remainin the hospital for monitoring.

Many children will have relapses of nephrotic syndrome. Typically, most children go in remission once they reach adolescence, and most of the time, symptoms do not recur in adulthood.

In rare cases, children with nephrotic syndrome require dialysis if they develop kidney failure. This procedure filters waste and extra fluid from the blood when the kidneys can no longer carry out this function independently.

Sometimes nephrotic syndrome gets better on its own, or conversely, it can get worse despite treatment. Family support is crucial for the child’s wellbeing.

Patient Stories

  • “Quite honestly, it was the luckiest day of our lives.”

    Stephanie and Dan
    Read More
  • We are, and will always be thankful for all of the medical interventions during the last 10 days of my pregnancy and Max’s 77-day NICU stay at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center!

    Max
    Read More
  • "The progress Nikos has made is just incredible."

    Nikos
    Read More

Patient Stories

  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
View
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
View
The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center
300 2nd Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 923-7250
View
Medical Specialty Services at Bayonne
16 East 29th Street
Bayonne, NJ 07002
(973) 926-7280
View
The Family Health Center (FHC) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
166 Lyons Avenue
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7300
View
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
View
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
View
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
View
Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
View
Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center
200 South Orange Avenue
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-7000
View
The Pediatric Specialty Center at Cooperman Barnabas - West Orange
375 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Suite 105
West Orange, NJ 07052
(973) 322-6900
View
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
View
Jersey City Medical Center's Ambulatory Care Center
395 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 915-2410
View
The Jersey City Family Health Center
418 Summit Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 499-1969
View
Jersey City Medical Center at Greenville
1825 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
1st Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 395-7600
View
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at RWJUH
200 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – Bayonne
815 Broadway
Bayonne, NJ 07002
(201) 823-6010
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – Egg Harbor Township
6106 Black Horse Pike
Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
(609) 645-7779
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – Hamilton
3575 Quakerbridge Road
Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
(609) 631-2800
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Long Term Care Center – Mountainside
150 New Providence Road
Mountainside, NJ 07092
(908) 233-3720
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – Newark
182 Lyons Avenue
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 391-2960
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – Toms River Lakehurst Road
368 Lakehurst Road
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 281-3900
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – New Brunswick Plum Street
10 Plum Street
6th Floor
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 258-7100
View
Children's Specialized Hospital
200 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(888) 244-5373
View
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
View
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center – East Brunswick
629 Cranbury Road
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
(732) 258-7040
View
Children's Specialized Outpatient Center at Toms River Stevens Road
94 Stevens Road
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 914-1100
View
Children's Specialized Hospital Outpatient Center at Jersey City
1825 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 408-6100
View

Pediatrics Treatment & Care

offered at these locations in your neighborhood

View All Locations