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Symptoms of an acute kidney infection in children can include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling
  • Pain or burning when urinating (peeing)
  • Urinating less or not at all
  • Blood in the urine (pee)
  • High blood pressure
  • Rash

When to See a Doctor

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child suddenly has trouble urinating or has blood in their urine. If your child is in the hospital already, let your caregivers know if you see any of these symptoms.


The risk of acute kidney failure is greatest in children who are already very ill. It may be caused a number of things, including:

  • Heart failure or another health condition that could reduce blood flow to the kidneys.
  • Trauma, bleeding, injury, surgery, or another event that causes very low blood pressure. This can also reduce blood flow to the kidneys.
  • Infection, such as E.coli, or a medicine or poison that could damage the kidneys.
  • A blockage in the tubes (ureters and urethra) that take urine out of the body. This can allow urine to back up into the kidneys and cause damage.

Diagnosis and Tests

To find out if acute kidney failure is the cause of a child’s symptoms, a healthcare provider can:

  • Test a child’s urine (pee)
  • Test a child’s blood
  • Take x-rays of a child’s kidneys
  • Take a small sample of a child’s kidney tissue and look at it under a microscope (a biopsy)

A child may need to see a doctor who specializes in children’s kidney problems, called a pediatric nephrologist (nuh-FROL-uh-jist).


Treatment for acute kidney failure varies depending on the cause but may include:

  • Giving IV fluids.
  • Managing electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium, and calcium.
  • Taking medicines.
  • Eating a specific diet.
  • Having dialysis treatments. In rare cases, a child may need a treatment that takes over the kidney function for a while, which is called “dialysis.”

Most children’s kidneys will heal and work normally again. It may take weeks for them to heal completely, and the child may need to continue treatment during that time. Some children may have long-lasting effects, including a greater chance of developing long-term kidney disease later in life.


Acute kidney failure can be hard to prevent, and most causes cannot be prevented. One way to help reduce the risk of kidney damage in children is to carefully read labels on medicines and never give more medicine than recommended.

What is Acute Kidney Failure?

Acute kidney failure is when the kidneys suddenly stop working. Normally, the kidneys remove waste out of the blood and send it out of the body with extra water in the form of urine (pee). The kidneys also balance the body’s salt and mineral levels and help manage blood pressure.

With acute kidney failure, the kidneys no longer filter enough waste products from the blood. Waste products build up and upset the balance of chemicals in the body, affect the blood pressure, and cause other problems.

Acute kidney failure can have many causes. It is also called “acute kidney injury.”