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While chronic kidney disease diagnosis is rare in children, its effects are profound. Furthermore, there’s so much scientists don’t know about kidney function. Keia Sanderson is hoping to change that. She specializes in chronic kidney disease treatment in pediatric patients and discusses avenues to advance treatment and prevention.

This podcast gives her the perfect platform to explain

  • How kidney disease is especially challenging to identity in children because chronic kidney disease stages are often asymptomatic in pediatric patients,
  • Why preterm babies are vulnerable to certain conditions because of the development timing of the nephrons, and
  • Why it’s important to identity intervention measures before dialysis and kidney transplantation provide the only recourse.

Keia Sanderson, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Her job is a mix of teaching, clinical work, and research. In her clinical work, she takes care of children with kidney disease at all stages, including kids who receive transplants.

Her current research is focused on kidney outcomes in children with complex medical histories, in particular children who’ve been born prematurely. She says that the challenge is oftentimes the asymptomatic nature of kidney disease in children. Therefore, she and other clinicians are often meeting kids with disease states that are irreversible and are turning toward dialysis treatment and transplantation.

Dr. Sanderson gives listeners a special focus on the risks from preterm birth. Because preterm babies tend to have less nephron development, the nephrons that are present have to work overtime and are subject to hyper filtration. But because doctors have been able to identify this as a critical time, they are looking at ways to better manage preterm infant treatment. For example, what medications are they receiving that could affect kidney development? How are we feeding infants in this active development stage? How are we handling their oxygenation? While a clear pathway is not yet evident, she is hopeful she and other researches will find one.

Currently, she’s hoping to develop mathematical models to make better predications about the risk levels for different babies.

For more information, see the UNC Kidney Center, the National Kidney Foundation, and talk to your primary doctor.

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