60% rise in kids being treated at NUH for kidney disease

More children are being treated for kidney disease at the National University Hospital (NUH).

Last year, 4,000 children were treated at the hospital, a 60 per cent increase from the 2,500 children seen the year before.

NUH runs the national kidney transplant programme for children and sees all paediatric end-stage kidney disease cases.

As of this year, 77 children are being seen for end-stage kidney failure.

"More and more children are having kidney disease because more children have lifestyle diseases such as obesity with diabetes. Obesity will push up the rate of diabetes, which in turn can cause kidney disease," said Professor Yap Hui Kim, who heads the Division of Paediatric Nephrology at NUH.

"It could also be because there is better awareness now and families and doctors are screening children for kidney disease," she added.

Obesity in schoolchildren has risen from 11 per cent in 2013 to 12 per cent in 2014, according to the Education Ministry. In 2000, it was 10 per cent.

There is no data available for the prevalence of diabetes in children here. More than 11 per cent of adults aged 18 to 69 years here are diabetic, and Singapore has one of the highest rates of diabetes among developed countries, exceeded only by the United States.

Prof Yap said about 8 per cent to 12 per cent of children with diabetes develop kidney disease.

"The increasing incidence, especially of type 2 diabetes related to lifestyle disorders in children, will mean an increasing number of adults with chronic kidney disease," added Prof Yap.

She said family physicians can be more vigilant in screening for kidney disease in the young by checking the urine, especially for children with low birth weight.

"That is because their kidneys may be smaller and if they grow up obese and do not take care, their kidneys may fail over time," she said.

NUH started a fetal kidney clinic in 2014 to help children with congenital kidney disease.

Janice Tai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline '60% rise in kids being treated at NUH for kidney disease'. Print Edition | Subscribe