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All you need to know about Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in children

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Garima Sharma 92% (461 ratings)
All you need to know about Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in children

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome refers to a condition that occurs when the kidneys’ filtering system is blocked due to the damaged red blood cells. This may lead to renal failure in children. The syndrome injures the small vessels and structures within the kidneys and causes the red blood cells to close the tiny blood vessels inside your kidneys. It may also damage the kidney tissues. Due to these problems, the kidneys may not be able to filter excess fluid or waste from the blood as precisely as it should. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a serious and potentially fatal condition, which requires medical intervention.

What are the causes of HUS in children?

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is commonly caused in children due to an infection of the E. coli bacteria in the digestive system. Your digestive tract is composed of the GI or gastrointestinal tract, as well as other organs that help in the breakdown and absorption of food. Usually, harmless strains of E. coli found in the intestines are crucial for digestion – but if a kid contracts an infection of the E. coli O157: H7 strain, the bacteria enter the digestive tract and forms toxins that may move into the bloodstream, further destroying the red blood cells.

E. coli O157:H7 may be present in –

  • Contaminated juice

  • Undercooked meat, particularly minced beef

  • Raw milk

  • Contaminated, unwashed raw vegetables and fruits

  • Contaminated lakes or pools

Who are at risk of having Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?

Some children are at a higher risk of having HUS. For example, –

  • Children below the age of 5, who have already been diagnosed with E. coli O157:H7 strain

  • Children with a weakened immune system

  • Kids with a family history of genetic HUS

  • Kids, who have been to a water park or day-care centre where the outbreak has occurred

Symptoms of HUS in children

Children with HUS may exhibit signs and symptoms similar to those of gastroenteritis, such as –

When should you see a doctor?

Caretakers or parents should seek a doctor immediately if the child shows the below symptoms –

The doctor or healthcare provider will perform a few tests to confirm the diagnosis of HUS and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment of HUS in Children

Initially, the doctor will go through your family and medical history followed by a thorough physical exam to diagnose Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Other methods used for the diagnosis may include –

  • Blood test

  • Urine test

  • Stool test

  • Kidney biopsy

Once the condition is detected, your healthcare provider will recommend some treatment options that may help to support your child cope with the symptoms and prevent further complications.

Treatment options may include –

  • Intravenous (IV) electrolytes and fluids

  • Blood transfusion

  • Dialysis

  • IV nutrition

  • Medications

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is an uncommon but serious condition, which can possibly lead to kidney failure. It develops in children after developing an infection with the E. coli bacteria. Upon encountering the above symptoms of HUS, the child should be taken to the clinic for diagnosis and treatment. With early intervention, most kids recover from HUS with complete kidney function.

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