The prognosis of the infant, child, or adolescent with chronic renal failure, defined as an irreversible reduction in glomerular filtration rate, has improved during the past quarter century because of the use of dialysis and renal transplantation. These have prolonged lives in previously fatal situations. Because the potential not only to sustain life but also to effect full rehabilitation exists with the introduction of these treatments, it is now imperative that the multisystem consequences of uremia be either minimized or totally avoided in the pediatric patient with chronic renal failure.

The role of the pediatrician in managing the infant, child, or adolescent with chronic renal failure should be directed toward minimizing the potentially devastating consequences of uremia so that the patient is in optimal clinical condition when end stage renal disease occurs.

INCIDENCE

It is difficult to know the incidence and prevalence of chronic renal failure and end stage renal disease in children. Surveys in Europe and North America have been conducted to obtain precise information regarding these issues; not only have the definitions included in these surveys differed, but the upper and lower age limits defining pediatric patients have not been uniform.

The available data suggest a prevalence of chronic renal failure of 18.5 per 1 million child population and an incidence of end stage renal disease of from 3 to 6 children per 1 million total population.

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