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Nephrotic Syndrome

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Treating Children with Nephrotic Syndrome

What Is It?

The kidneys normally work like a filter to keep proteins in the blood while waste products get filtered out. When the kidneys do not work properly, the protein leaks out of the blood and into the urine. When a lot of protein leaks out into the urine, it may change how a person looks and affect the results of their blood tests. This is considered nephrotic syndrome.

PDF Document Nephrotic Syndrome: Important Information to Know

Children may have:

  • High levels of cholesterol in the blood
  • Increased blood pressures
  • Less urine than usual
  • Low levels of protein in the blood
  • Swelling of the body (edema) — often around the eyes, in the belly, or in the legs and feet

Learn more about how the kidneys act like a coffee filter.

There are diseases of the kidney that cause Nephrotic Syndrome, such as:

  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)
  • Membranous Nephropathy
  • Minimal Change Disease — most common

There is nothing you did as a parent that caused your child to have kidney problems. In fact, these diseases are called “idiopathic,” meaning we do not know why they occur. Nephrotic syndrome may also occur as a result of other medical problems, such as diabetes, cancer, lupus, infection, drugs, allergies and vasculitis.


Your doctor will order urine and blood tests. Your doctor will also ask questions about your child’s symptoms and do a physical exam.

Your doctor may order a renal ultrasound to look at the kidneys.

If your child does not get better while taking PDF Document prednisone, your child may need a kidney biopsy. During a kidney biopsy, a tiny piece of tissue is removed from the kidney. A doctor will look at the tissue under a microscope. If your child needs a kidney biopsy, they will be sent to Seattle Children's Hospital for treatment and care.

To learn more information about kidney biopsies, read PDF Document Seattle Children's Hospital's "Kidney Biopsy and Your Child."

Treatment will always involve

  • Checking your child’s urine for protein at home. The nursing staff will teach you how to dip your child’s urine for protein. It is easy to do. Always make sure you have the right type of urine sticks (urine sticks should test for protein, not glucose or ketones).
    Also make sure your sticks are not expired.
  • Eating a healthy and low salt diet. Here are resources to obtain these goals: