The kidneys are organs that filter fluid and wastes from the blood to form urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called ureters. Kidney dysplasia is a condition that can occur in babies while they are growing in the womb. Among other terms that are used to describe this condition are renal dysplasia and multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK).
In kidney dysplasia, the internal structures of one or both of the baby’s kidneys do not develop normally. Fluid-filled sacs called cysts replace normal kidney tissue. Kidney dysplasia usually happens in only one kidney.
A baby with one working kidney can grow normally and has few, if any, health problems. Babies with kidney dysplasia affecting both kidneys generally do not survive pregnancy, and those who do survive need dialysis and kidney transplant very early in life.
If the condition is limited to one kidney and the child has no symptoms, no treatment may be necessary. Regular checkups should include blood pressure measurements, blood tests to measure kidney function, and urine testing for protein. Usually the child is monitored with periodic ultrasounds to look at the affected kidney and to make sure the other kidney continues to grow normally and doesn’t develop any other problems. Children with urinary tract infections may need to take antibiotics.
Removal of the kidney should be considered only if the kidney causes pain, causes high blood pressure and shows abnormal changes on ultrasound.
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