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Polycystic Kidney Disease in Children

Key Points About Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in Children

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes the growth of numerous fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. These cysts can reduce kidney function, leading to kidney failure. When the kidneys fail to function, the only life-extending options are dialysis and kidney transplantation. PKD can also affect the liver, causing either liver cysts or liver scarring (fibrosis) depending on the type of PKD. PKD can also involve other organs of the body such as the heart and blood vessels.

Overall, PKD is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure and affects approximately 600,000 people in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation. PKD affects all racial and ethnic groups equally and affects children as well as adults. While there is no cure for PKD, recent clinical studies in adults have identified therapies that can slow the progression of the kidney disease. These therapies are not yet available for children.

Types of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Inherited and Polycystic Kidney Diseases (IPKD) Program

This clinical center of excellence at Children's National Hospital provides integrated care for children with PKD by a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled kidney, liver, growth, genetic and psychology specialists. In addition, we offer enrollment in child-focused ADPKD and ARPKD databases. For studies in rare diseases, like ADPKD and ARPKD, coordinating the collection of patient data and maintaining strict confidentiality about patient identities is critically important in advancing knowledge. Participation in these international PKD registries can be discussed with our team.

Children's Team

Children's Team




Kidney Transplantation

The Kidney Transplantation Program is the only one of its kind in the Washington, D.C., area focused on the needs of children and teens with kidney disease. Additionally, it is the region's only Medicare-approved center for kidney transplants in children and teens.


Learn how our highly skilled team works across divisions to manage the full range of kidney diseases in children, including dialysis and kidney transplantation.


Whether your infant has arrived prematurely or has a critical illness, the Children’s National Hospital top-ranked team assists in coordinating every service you and your baby need, including consultations, assessments, emergency treatments and continuing care.