NIDDK Explained Kidney Birth Defects

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Kidney disorders can develop before a child is born. Two new fact sheets from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, explain two of these disorders: kidney dysplasia and medullary sponge kidney.

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Kidney dysplasia, which occurs during fetal development, is a condition in which the internal structures of one or both of the baby’s kidneys fail to develop normally. Dysplasia usually occurs in only one kidney. Babies with just one working kidney can grow and develop normally with few health problems. However, fetuses with dysplasia in both kidneys may not survive pregnancy and, if they do, they will need dialysis or a kidney transplant early in life.

Medullary sponge kidney (MSK) is a birth defect in which cysts form in the inner part of the kidney — or medulla — keeping urine from flowing freely through the kidney’s inner tubules. While many people with MSK have no symptoms, problems such as blood in the urine, kidney stones and urinary tract infections could develop, but usually much later in life — around ages 30 to 40. MSK rarely leads to more serious problems, such as total kidney failure.

The fact sheets, "Kidney Dysplasia" and "Medullary Sponge Kidney," explain signs and symptoms as well as diagnosis and treatment.

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