Nephrotic Syndrome

Also known as: kidney disease.

What is nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by kidney damage, particularly to the small blood vessels which filter blood, the glomeruli, which results in children (generally between the ages of 2-6 years), leaking a protein (albumin) normally found in blood, into the urine.

What causes nephrotic syndrome?

A number of conditions can damage the glomeruli. Mostly no cause (idiopathic nephrotic syndrome) is found for the most common type of damage (minimal change lesion, MCNS) seen in children (more frequently in boys).

Other causes of damage to the glomeruli include:

Rarely there is a genetic inherited cause.

What are the signs/symptoms of nephrotic syndrome?

Because of the damage to the glomeruli, there are large amounts of protein albuminAlbumin Blood Serum Level in the urine, (with low levels in blood), high levels of cholesterol in the blood, fluid retention with swelling all over the body (edema) particularly in the abdomen, but also the ankles, feet and/or face, weight gain, and less but foamy urine output.

Fatigue, decreased appetite, and pale skin and fingernails may also be present.

What are nephrotic syndrome care options?

Specific treatments depend on the cause and severity of the disease. Initially hospitalization may be required.

Treating the underlying medical condition if present plus other medications which might include corticosteroids, immunosuppressives, intravenous albumin, drugs to remove excess body fluid (diuretics) and a special diet may all be utilized.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 03, 2022 01:40 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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