Medication for Chronic Kidney Disease in Children

Kidney specialists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone may prescribe medication and supplements to manage symptoms of chronic kidney disease and prevent complications, such as anemia and a buildup of acids in the blood known as acidosis. Treatment is different for each child; it is based on symptoms and level of kidney function.


Your child’s doctor may prescribe supplements to replace vitamins and minerals that the kidneys can no longer absorb or produce. These may include iron, which helps prevent anemia; active vitamin D, to maintain bone health; and bicarbonate, which neutralizes acids that can build up in the blood.

Most supplements are available in liquid or chewable form.


Erythropoietin is a medication prescribed for anemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease, when the kidneys can no longer function. Erythropoietin stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.

A parent gives this medication by injection, usually one to three times per week, depending on the type prescribed. It is usually combined with iron supplements. Your child’s blood may be tested every three or four months to check the level of red blood cells. The doctor adjusts the medication dosage as your child’s kidney function changes.

Antihypertensive Medication

Antihypertensive medication helps control blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. There are several types, all taken by mouth. ACE inhibitors block the activity of angiotensin II, a substance that can constrict blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels by preventing calcium from entering the cells of the vessel walls. Beta blockers inhibit the effects of adrenaline, a hormone that makes the heart beat faster.

Children respond differently to antihypertensive medications, so our doctors recommend giving one medication at a time, starting with the lowest possible dose to lower blood pressure.

These medications may be needed for only a short period. Doctors monitor your child’s blood pressure monthly to determine the need for medication.

Growth Hormone Therapy

Growth and development are often impaired in children with chronic kidney disease. Our doctors recommend starting growth hormone therapy as soon as growth problems become apparent.

A parent injects growth hormones under a child’s skin at home on a daily basis. Side effects may include numbness and tingling, as well as nerve, muscle, and joint pain.

Follow-Up Care

Our nephrologists closely monitor children with chronic kidney disease. They perform regular blood and urine tests to assess your child’s kidney function and prescribe treatments designed to preserve it. Families can call our doctors at any time of the day or night, seven days a week.

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