Nutrition for Chronic Kidney Disease in Children

Nutrition for Chronic Kidney Disease in Children

Here's an excerpt from a helpful article for parents of children with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:…

"What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease is any disease that causes the kidneys to function less efficiently over a long period of time. In the early stages of CKD, the kidneys continue to work. They just don’t do their job as well as healthy kidneys. Because the decline in kidney function happens slowly, a child’s body may adapt, without causing any change in the way the child looks or feels. Over time, small changes, such as small increases in blood phosphorus, can build up to unhealthy levels. As the kidney disease worsens, the child may develop more severe symptoms of CKD, such as weak bones, lack of appetite, lack of energy, and slowed growth.
Why is nutrition important for children with CKD?

Health problems from CKD can be prevented or delayed by eating the right foods. Every child needs good nutrition, but learning about nutrition is vital for the parents or guardians of a child with kidney disease because the child’s diet can affect kidney function. In turn, the kidneys can affect the child’s health and growth.

The kidneys do many things to keep the body working properly. The kidneys remove wastes and extra water from the blood and make urine. They balance the salts—sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus—that circulate in the blood. And they control the release of natural chemicals called hormones that help make red blood cells, control blood pressure, and keep bones strong.

When the kidneys don’t work normally, a child’s growth may slow down. The child’s health care team will work with the child’s caretakers to make sure the child gets the right amount of nutrients to maintain growth. At different times, the team may suggest changes in both the amount and the types of food the child needs to eat. Learning about nutrients in foods will help caretakers understand what changes need to be made to their child’s diet. Caretakers should always consult with their child’s health care team before making any major changes in the child’s diet.
Why is energy important for children with CKD?

Everyone needs energy from food to grow and be active. Children with CKD tend to avoid eating because they have poor appetites. Taking in too little energy can lead to decreased activity, poor growth, and decreased resistance to infection. Growth is evaluated by comparing a child’s height and weight with a growth chart that shows the normal ranges for children according to age. A child’s energy needs change depending on age, height, and weight. The amount of energy in the diet is measured by counting calories in the food a person eats. The health care team can determine the child’s daily caloric needs. If a child is not growing as well as possible, the health care team can suggest healthy ways to add calories to the child’s diet. While feeding tubes are most often used for infants, situations occur when older children and adolescents also benefit from them.
Why is knowing about protein important for children with CKD?

Protein is an essential part of any diet. Protein helps build and maintain muscle, bone, skin, organs, and blood. Some proteins help fight disease and heal wounds. All proteins break down into waste products that must be removed from the blood by the kidneys. Eating more protein than the body needs may put an extra burden on the kidneys and cause kidney function to decline faster. The table below shows the protein content of some common foods, by serving size, listed from highest to lowest protein content."