Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the United State. Almost all of these cases are caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with E. coli bacteria, primarily O157:H7.
The bacteria produce a poison called Shiga toxins. At first the child has diarrhea, which is often bloody, and severe abdominal cramping. Those symptoms may subside, but the child is still listless and may have unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose or mouth. That means the toxins have made their way to the bloodstream and have started to destroy red blood cells, and possibly platelets as well. The damaged red blood cells clog tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, making them work harder to remove wastes and extra fluid from the blood. This damages the kidneys and often causes kidney failure. Read information on treatment.
Some of these young ones develop chronic kidney disease. All of them are at risk for serious future long term health complications.
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HUS Complications in Children
HUS kidney failure leads to a multitude of serious health problems because the toxins that would have been eliminated from the body in urine end up in the blood. This build up of toxins is called uremia. These uremic toxins are basically poison to the body; hence the term uremic poisoning is used to describe hemolytic uremic syndrome. These toxins may also cause thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), which is also associated with renal failure and central nervous system (CNS) injuries.
Possible complications include those below (these are not a definitive list of potential medical problems):
- Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. These result in tissue injury by causing compression of tissue from an expanding hematoma or hematomas. This can distort and injure tissue. In addition, the pressure may lead to a loss of blood supply to affected tissue with resulting infarction. The blood released by brain hemorrhage may have direct toxic effects on brain tissue and vasculature.
- Seizures are a sign that the body is being poisoned. These can be caused by factors other than uremia, including a high fever.
- Encephalopathy is a term used when there is brain disfunction or alteration. This is usually related to the uremia associated with HUS kidney failure (renal failure). When this happens, toxins the body should have excreted in urine get into the blood and circulate throughout the body.
- Heart failure is possible.
Our Lawyers Can Help
These children have legal rights. Our attorneys represent young clients nationwide. If your son or daughter has been sickened, contact our attorneys for a free consultation: call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or submit our free consultation form.
1. Jörres, Achim, Management of Acute Kidney Problems, p. 198.