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Did you know that almost 10,000 children and adolescents live with end-stage renal disease? For children with illnesses like this, it’s crucial to have the right doctor.

There are many types of doctors in the medical field, and each has a specialty. While it may be easy to discern whether an oncologist or a pulmonologist is an expert in their field, other specialties may not be as obvious. One such specialty is a pediatric nephrologist.

Does your child need specialized care from a nephrologist? Keep reading to learn more about pediatric nephrology.

What Is a Pediatric Nephrologist?

Pediatric nephrology is a subspecialty of nephrology. Nephrology is the branch of medicine that deals with the kidneys and their diseases.

While facilities like The Kidney Institute in Houston, Texas focus on adults, pediatric nephrologists work primarily with children. Although pediatric nephrology is a subspecialty, there are a large number of doctors who are specially trained to treat children’s kidney problems.

Pediatric nephrologists often work with a team of doctors at pediatric centers to treat the patient. They may work with a urologist, radiologist, social worker, dietitian, medical geneticist and several other medical professionals.

Pediatric Nephrology vs. General Nephrology

The two types of nephrology are closely related, but pediatric nephrologists and general nephrologists have strength in a certain area. Pediatric nephrologists tend to have an interest in congenital kidney problems and genetic diseases. General nephrologists may have more of an interest in adult diseases such as polycystic kidney disease.

What Do Pediatric Nephrologists Treat?

Pediatric nephrologists treat a wide range of conditions. Many of these conditions are congenital, such as if the child is born with abnormal kidneys or has a problem with their urinary tract.

Other conditions that these doctors treat include conditions that result from kidney disease and problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Patients may come to pediatric nephrologists with more than one kidney issue, which these doctors will work hard to treat.

What’s Involved in the Treatment?

When treating patients, pediatric nephrologists will first go through a physical exam and ask about the child’s medical history. This will involve a review of symptoms, family history, medications and the child’s diet. Blood tests, urine tests and imaging tests may also get used to help diagnose the condition.

The treatments that a nephrologist may suggest will depend on the condition. For instance, if the patient has an infection, antibiotics will be prescribed.

If a patient has a kidney abnormality, a doctor may suggest surgery. However, some conditions can get treated with medication only.

Beyond that, there are some specialized treatments that pediatric nephrologists provide.


Many of these doctors provide regular dialysis treatment. This involves using a machine that cleans the blood. The blood is cleaned through two tubes to the machine, and the blood that is cleansed is collected in a third tube.

Kidney Transplantation

Pediatric nephrologists may also conduct kidney transplants for patients. They will work with a team, including a surgeon and other health professionals, to ensure that the transplant goes as planned.

Kidney Biopsies

Kidney biopsies are one of the possible treatments that will be offered to the patient. The biopsy will be performed by a nephrologist and involves taking a small tissue sample from the patient’s kidney. The tissue piece is examined under a microscope for signs of injury or disease.

Interpretation of Kidney X-Ray and Lab Studies

X-rays and lab studies can help a nephrologist diagnose the disease and suggest possible treatments. Children with chronic kidney disease may have their blood tests and x-rays checked regularly to monitor their progress and provide treatment.

What Can Parents Expect From Pediatric Nephrologists?

Parents of children with kidney problems or other related conditions can expect that a pediatric nephrologist can treat the child and offer support. Although the specific treatments a patient receives will depend on the type of kidney problem, a pediatric nephrologist will work hard to ensure the health and well-being of the patient.

How Can I Find a Pediatric Nephrologist?

Pediatric nephrologists are not as common as some other doctors. It can be challenging to find one, especially if your health insurance plan does not cover them. However, you can explore a few avenues to find the right doctor.


One of the easiest ways to find a pediatric nephrologist is to ask your pediatrician if they know any that they would recommend. Your doctor may have worked with some in the past and can let you know if they would be a good fit for your child.

American Society of Pediatric Nephrology

If you don’t have a pediatrician or you want to look outside of your area, you can contact the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology to find a specialist. This organization can put you in touch with a nephrologist in your area.

University-Based Programs

Some hospitals work closely with pediatric nephrologists and offer programs where they can see patients. You may be able to find a pediatric nephrologist through your local children’s medical center and get a recommendation of one.

Contacting a Doctor Directly

If you can’t find a pediatric nephrologist through one of the above methods, you can search for one on the Internet, as well as in other directories. You can also contact any hospitals in your area and see if they have a pediatric nephrologist on staff. Finding one may be easier than you think, but you may have to research to find the right one for your child.

Find the Right Doctor for Your Child

Finding the right doctor for your child is essential. If you’re looking for a pediatric nephrologist, be sure to explore multiple avenues and call around.

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