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Your Child & Chronic Kidney Disease - What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

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What is chronic kidney disease cartoon

There are many different causes of chronic kidney disease and your child’s condition will be discussed with you by the doctor who is a kidney specialist (nephrologist).

In chronic kidney disease there is a slow build up of waste products and sometimes fluid in the body. At first the effects of this can be helped by careful attention to the diet and the use of medicines. You may sometimes hear people call this conservative or pre-dialysis treatment. During this time, which may last for several years, your child will have regular assessments and investigations to see how well the kidneys are working.

However, when the build up of waste products increases such that your child’s health shows signs of being affected, then dialysis and/or kidney transplantation become necessary.


There are 5 stages of chronic kidney disease. These are divided up according to the GFR (glomerular filteration rate). The GFR can be estimated from the child’s height and blood test results or family measured as a day case on a ward. The GFR is approximates to the percentage of overall kidney function. The 5 stages are shown in the table below.

StageGFR/Percentage Kidney FunctionDescription
1 90+ Normal kidney function but urine tests or other abnormalities point to kidney disease
2 60-90 Mildly reduced kidney function
3 30-60 Moderately reduced kidney function
4 15-30 Severely reduced kidney function
5 <15 Very severe or established renal failure, dialysis or transplantation needed at this stage
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Content compiled by members of the Children’s Renal & Urology Unit, QMC Campus, Nottingham University Hospitals.

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.

NKF Controlled Document No. 165: What is Chronic Kidney Disease? written: 12/06/2004 last reviewed: 14/11/2020