mother and daughter

Pediatric nephrology is a multidisciplinary center that offers expert diagnosis, treatment and management of all types of kidney and hypertensive disorders in infants, children, and adolescents. Our specialists include skilled and experienced pediatric nephrologists, imaging specialists, pediatric nurses and a team of many other multidisciplinary specialists. We are committed to provide the best possible care for children with kidney disorders.

Common Diseases We Treat:

  • Acute kidney injury
  • Bartter Syndrome
  • Chronic kidney disease (U of U)
  • Congenital kidney disorders
  • Cystinosis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Hematuria (Blood in urine)
  • Hypertension
  • Hypophosphatemic rickets
  • Interstitial nephritis
  • Kidney stones
  • Multicystic dysplastic kidney
  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Prenatal consultation for in utero kidney disorders
  • Proteinuria (Protein in urine)
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Renal tubular acidosis
  • Single kidney

Treatments & Specialized Testing

  • 24 hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
  • Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis (U of U)
  • Kidney Transplantation (PCH)
  • Plasmapheresis

Contact Us


Phone: 801-213-3599

Fax: 801-587-7539


Phone: 801-662-7600

Kidney Transplant

Phone: 801-662-6800

Overview of Kidney Disorders in Children

How do the kidneys work?

The body takes nutrients from food and converts them to energy. After the body has taken the food that it needs, waste products are left behind in the bowel and in the blood.

The kidneys and urinary system keep chemicals, like potassium and sodium, and water in balance by removing a type of waste, called urea, from the blood. Urea is made when foods containing protein, like meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys.

Two kidneys, a pair of purplish-brown organs, are located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Their function is to:

  • Remove liquid waste from the blood in the form of urine

  • Keep a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood

  • Produce erythropoietin. This is a hormone that aids the formation of red blood cells.

The kidneys remove urea from the blood through tiny filtering units called nephrons. There are about 1 million nephrons in each kidney. They are located in the medulla and the cortex. Each nephron consists of a ball formed of small blood capillaries, called a glomerulus, and a small tube called a renal tubule.

Urea, together with water and other waste substances, forms the urine as it passes through the nephrons and down the renal tubules of the kidney. Urine collects in the calyces and renal pelvis and moves into the ureter. From the ureter, it flows down into the bladder.

In addition to filtering waste from the blood and assisting in the balance of fluids and other substances in the body, the kidneys perform other important functions. These functions include:

  • Production of hormones that help to regulate blood pressure and heart function

  • Conversion of vitamin D into a form that can be used by the body’s tissues

What is nephrology?

Nephrology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the kidneys. Other health professionals who treat kidney problems include primary care health care providers, pediatricians, and urologists.

What causes problems with the kidneys?

In children, problems of the urinary system include acute and chronic kidney failure, urinary tract infections, obstructions along the urinary tract, and abnormalities present at birth.

Diseases of the kidneys often produce temporary or permanent changes to the small functional structures and vessels inside the kidney. Frequent urinary tract infections can cause scarring to these structures leading to renal (kidney) failure. Some diseases that cause kidney damage include:

  • Glomerulonephritis

  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome

  • Polycystic kidney disease

  • Hydronephrosis

  • Urinary tract infections

Disorders of the genitourinary system in children are often found by fetal ultrasound before birth. If not found on a fetal ultrasound, often children will develop a urinary tract infection that will prompt your child's health care provider to do special diagnostic tests. These may find an abnormality. Some diseases of the kidney do not reveal themselves until later in life or after a child has a bacterial infection or an immune disorder.

High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. Two numbers are recorded when measuring blood pressure:

  • Systolic pressure. This is the higher number. It refers to the highest pressure inside the artery. It occurs when the heart contracts and pumps blood to the body.
  • Diastolic pressure. This is the lower number. It refers to the lowest pressure inside the artery. It occurs when the heart relaxes and fills with blood.

For example, if a child's blood pressure is 110/70 mmHg, 110 is the systolic blood pressure and 70 is the diastolic blood pressure.

High blood pressure (hypertension) means that the pressure inside the arteries is too high. This higher pressure may harm the arteries and cause the heart to work harder.

  • If the pressure is high when the heart contracts, then the systolic pressure will be high.
  • If the pressure is high when the heart relaxes then the diastolic pressure will be high.

The systolic or diastolic pressure, or both, may be high.

Many things affect blood pressure. These include:

  • Time of day. Blood pressure changes throughout the day.
  • Physical activity. Blood pressure is usually higher during and right after exercise.
  • Emotions. Feeling angry, afraid, or happy can affect blood pressure. Feeling anxious or nervous at the healthcare provider's office may also affect blood pressure.
  • Age, height, weight, and gender. Blood pressure is lower in infants compared with older children. Taller children usually have higher blood pressure than shorter children. Overweight or obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure. And boys usually have slightly higher blood pressure than girls.
  • Illness or medicines. This might be heart disease or kidney disease.
  • Diet. Salt, foods with high salt content (such as packaged meats), alcohol, drinks with caffeine (such as coffee and soda) can all raise blood pressure.

One high blood pressure reading does not mean that your child has high blood pressure. Your child's healthcare provider will want to check your child's blood pressure over a period of days or weeks. When blood pressure stays high, it may be a problem.

What causes high blood pressure?

Blood pressure can be primary. This means the cause isn't known. Or it may be secondary. This means it happens with illness or certain lifestyle choices.

Secondary causes of high blood pressure in children and teens include:

  • Kidney disease and heart disease
  • Prescription medicine such as corticosteroids or birth control pills
  • Illegal drugs such as cocaine

Who is at risk for high blood pressure?

Children and teens are more likely to have high blood pressure if they are:

  • Overweight
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Are boys
  • Have a mother who smoked during pregnancy

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Usually, high blood pressure doesn't cause any symptoms. This is why it is often referred to as the silent killer. It is often found during a routine visit to a healthcare provider.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will diagnose high blood pressure by checking your child's blood pressure. The provider will check blood pressure over several days or weeks before making the diagnosis. Your child's healthcare provider will also:

  • Review your child's health history, including diet, exercise, activities, and emotional health
  • Review your family history
  • Give your child a physical exam
Reliable blood pressure readings taken at home can be helpful in determining if your child truly has high blood pressure. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring uses a device that can be worn for 24 hours. It takes multiple blood pressure readings and can help get a more accurate reading of overall blood pressure.

Your child's provider may also order tests. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG), to check your child's heart rhythm
  • Blood tests
  • Urine test

How is high blood pressure treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. If your child's healthcare provider has found a secondary cause, such as kidney disease, the disease will be treated. If the provider hasn't found a cause, treatment involves making lifestyle changes. These may include eating a heart-healthy diet that:

  • Has lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Is low in salt
  • Limits fatty and sweet foods

Other lifestyle changes may include:

  • Losing weight
  • Getting more exercise
  • Learning to manage emotions and stress
  • Quitting or staying away from smoking
  • Staying away from alcohol

Many children and teens are able to lower their blood pressure with lifestyle changes. But some children may need medicine. 

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure may damage the blood vessels and heart. This increases the risk for heart attack and stroke later in life.

Can high blood pressure be prevented?

Not all high blood pressure can be prevented. But making heart-healthy lifestyle choices may lower the chance of developing high blood pressure. Help your child:

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be active every day
  • Stay away from smoking

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

If you have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease, make sure your child's provider knows. And if your child is overweight, make sure you talk with his or her provider about ways to lose weight.

Key points about high blood pressure

  • High blood pressure means that the pressure inside the arteries is too high. This may harm the arteries and cause the heart to work harder.
  • High blood pressure often has no known cause. Some health conditions and medicines may cause high blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure changes. Your child's provider will check it over a period of days or weeks before making a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and healthy eating can help to lower high blood pressure.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

Matthew M. Grinsell, M.D., Ph.D.

Patient Rating:


4.5 out of 5

Dr. Matthew Grinsell completed his medical degree and doctorate of philosophy from the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He then completed his Pediatric residency and fellowship in Nephrology at The University of Virginia. He is board-certified in Pediatric Nephrology. Dr. Grinsell is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University o... Read More


Pediatric Nephrology


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599
University Hospital
Transplant and Specialty Clinic
(801) 213-3599

Raoul D. Nelson, Ph.D., M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.7 out of 5

Dr. Raoul Nelson received his medical degree and doctorate of philosophy from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, completed his Pediatric residency at University of Utah and Primary Children’s Medical Center, and completed his Nephrology Fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University of St. Louis. He is curr... Read More


Pediatric Nephrology


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599
University Hospital
Pediatric Nephrology, Clinic 6
(801) 213-3599

Debra L. Sandt, M.S.N., CPNP

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Debra Sandt, MSN, CPNP, received her Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Utah in 2002. Prior to that, she practiced as a pediatric RN for 20 years. She began her career in pediatric nursing at Children’s Hospital of Orange County in southern California working on an infant and toddler unit. In 1994, she moved to Salt Lake City and ... Read More


Pediatric Nephrology, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
University Hospital
Transplant and Specialty Clinic
(801) 213-3599

Meredith Seamon, M.D.

Dr. Meredith Seamon received her medical education at Creighton University, where she also did her undergraduate studies. She then completed her pediatric residency training at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, and fellowship training in Pediatric Nephrology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is an Assistant ... Read More


Pediatric Nephrology


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599
University Hospital (801) 213-3599

Joseph R. Sherbotie, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.8 out of 5

Dr. Sherbotie received his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University, completed his pediatric residency at Brown University, and completed his pediatric nephrology fellowship at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sherbotie spent the next 7... Read More


Pediatric Nephrology


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599
University Hospital (801) 213-3599
University of Utah Hospital 50 N. Medical Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84113
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton 3773 West 12600 South
Riverton, UT 84065
Eccles Primary Children's Outpatient Services 81 N. Mario Capecchi Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84113