Children With Kidney Disease Face A Much Harder Time In The Classroom

Chronic kidney disease in children leads to permanent damage to the kidneys and decreases their efficiency, thus leading to either dialysis or renal transplant surgery. But how does it effect another important aspect of a child’s life, their education?

The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology states that children with chronic kidney disease are more prone to decreased academic performance and deficits in verbal and visual memory. The survey included almost 34 studies on more than 3000 children and adults who were less than 21 years of age.

Key Findings:

Dr. Kerry Chen of the University of Sydney’s Center for Kidney Research states that, ‘’The IQ of children with chronic kidney disease is very low to average as compared to other children.”
If we compare the IQs of healthy children and children with CKD, children with Chronic Kidney Disease have a lower IQ score on average, with a difference of approximately 10 points between the two groups.

Moreover, children who had received a kidney transplant scored 11 points lower than healthy children and for those on dialysis, this deficit was even more pronounced, with IQs measuring 16 points lower than those of children without CKD.

What can be done?

“Educational support programs should specifically aim to minimize deficits in attention, memory, and executive function as a preventative measure,” said Dr Chen.

“Families, educators and health teams also need to work together to ensure that CKD treatments for children do not disrupt their schooling too much or too often. Developing a comprehensive dialysis and post-transplant rehabilitation program would help these children.”

It’s important to note that hard evidence regarding the effects of dialysis and kidney disease on IQ and educational performance are not yet conclusive. Experts still have some doubts about how CKD effects educational performances and IQ in children and adults.

According to Dr. Chen, “The high levels of uremic solutes in plasma due to CKD can impair the development of neurons. Moreover, CKD leads to diseases like anemia, malnutrition and hypertension that also reduce the efficiency of the brain and decrease cognitive functions among kids on dialysis as compared to those in other stages of chronic renal disease.”

Above all, the longterm treatment of CKD disturbs the academic schedule. Sleep disturbances in these children may lead to lower IQ, lack of concentration, daytime sleepiness and lower school grades.

Moreover, the environment of hospitals and dialysis setup also decrease the attention, concentration, memory and cognitive functions that play very crucial roles in children’s ability to obtain, understand and retain the knowledge in educational and social life.

Finally, the continuous dialysis and recovery period from renal transplant surgeries further decreases the regularity and amount of time spent in the classroom, potentially leading to lack of interest, poor concentration and bad school performance and grades.

If news about childhood kidney disease is important to you, please be sure to head to our articles page to read some of our older articles regarding children and kidney disease.