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Growth Failure


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When a child’s growth rate falls below what’s appropriate for their age, it’s called growth failure. The experts at the National Institutes of Health say that a child has growth failure when they’re below the third percentile for their age and gender, meaning that 97 percent of their peers are bigger than them.

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, often causes growth failure. In fact, about a third of kids with CKD also experience growth failure. One aspect of normal kidney function is to help regulate the body’s ability to use growth hormone, which is how children grow and develop. With CKD, this hormone regulation doesn’t occur normally.

Signs and symptoms of CKD-related growth failure include:

  • Acidosis (imbalance of sodium, potassium, and acid-base levels in the child’s blood)
  • Anemia
  • Little interest in eating
  • Malnutrition
  • Urinating more than usual (polyuria)

University of Miami Health System pediatric specialists work as a team to provide comprehensive care. Our nephrologists work with pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologists, adolescent medicine doctors, and other specialized doctors to diagnose and treat growth failure in children.


Physical Exam
The doctor gathers a personal and family health history of your child and does a complete physical exam to help determine the cause of growth failure.

Blood Tests
Blood tests check hormone levels related to growth and development.


Diet Modifications
Your child may need to make dietary changes to improve kidney function. Depending on your child’s needs, they may need to take more calcium or vitamin D, drink more or less liquids, or eat less protein.

Growth Hormones
Your child’s specialist may recommend your child receives growth hormones to help jumpstart growth.

Your child’s nephrologist may prescribe one or more medicines to help manage CKD-related symptoms that may be contributing to the growth failure.

Why Choose UHealth? 

Recognized for excellence in treating kidney conditions. We’ve been recognized for our expertise in dealing with acute renal replacement therapies in young children and infants, as well as the management of severe urinary tract obstruction in developing fetuses and in newborns. We work closely with our highly skilled pediatric urology team to deliver comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for your child.

In 2016, the state of Florida renewed our designation as a Comprehensive Chronic Kidney Failure Center (CCKFC). We are one of only three such centers in the state. Our program has consistently ranked among the nation’s top pediatric nephrology programs for the past nine years by U.S. News & World Report. We’re proud to have received the best rank in the state of Florida.

Pediatric Dialysis Unit provides kid-friendly care. Our Pediatric Dialysis Unit is one of the largest in the nation solely dedicated to children. We have eight hemodialysis stations, and our highly skilled nursing staff provides more than 3,000 treatments a year. Our pediatric nephrologists monitor each child to ensure they’re responding well to dialysis treatment, and we hold monthly multidisciplinary patient reviews in accordance with national guidelines. We also help connect children and families with essential psychosocial support during their treatment.

Pair Donor Exchange Program for kidney transplant. If your child needs a kidney transplant, we’re experts in transplant and follow-up care. Our Pair Donor Exchange Program can help shorten your child’s wait time for a kidney. This program increases the opportunity for children who are incompatible with a majority of donor kidneys to be transplanted. Because the child receives a kidney from a living donor, they will usually have a better outcome.

Annual Pediatric Nephrology Seminar held every March. Celebrating our 45th year in 2018, this unique international gathering of nephrology specialists is an important forum for exchanging the latest innovations and research findings in pediatric nephrology. Pediatric and adult nephrologists, pediatricians, internists, general practitioners, pediatric urologists, and transplant surgeons from throughout the United States and the world attend this annual event.

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