Kidney and bladder health

18 September 2017

Rare condition makes 5-year-old boy 'look 9 months pregnant'

Mckenzie Watson's family initially thought he was just getting fatter, but his mom knew something wasn't right when her son looked 9 months pregnant and about to pop.

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Babies and toddlers are ridiculously cute with their chubby cheeks and puppy fat, but it's no longer adorable when they look like they carried a baby to term and are about to go into labour.

Mckenzie Watson, a five-year-old toddler, suffers from nephrotic syndrome which results in too much protein in the body, causing swelling and immense water retention.

Abnormally bloated

Initially, Mckenzie's parents thought he was gaining weight as a result of eating too many rich foods over the festive season, because that's when they first noticed the swelling.

When his mom, Antonia, took him swimming, she realised something wasn't right, because his swimming costume no longer fit him and his stomach was abnormally bloated. She said that he looked like he was nine months pregnant and about to pop.

Mckenzie's skin took a beating following the severe swelling as well. His parents took him to hospital, where doctors initially struggled to find out what was wrong. By day 11, however, doctors finally diagnosed Mckenzie with nephrotic syndrome.

According to a Health24 article, nephrotic syndrome is a result of damage to very small blood vessels in the kidneys called glomeruli. The primary function of these blood vessels is to filter waste and excess water from the blood, then send it to the bladder in the form of urine.

The syndrome could occur in conjunction with other illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, hepatitis or the disease Selena Gomez is suffering from – lupus.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases divides childhood nephrotic syndrome into two variants – primary and secondary.

Chemotherapy and steroids

The primary variant is said to be the most common type and affects the kidneys only, whereas the secondary variant is the result of other diseases or conditions.

Doctors need to look at a number factors before deciding on treatment for the syndrome, and in Mckenzie's case, they put him on a course of a chemotherapy and steroids.

Even though the toddler isn't in hospital anymore, his parents need to monitor him closely, especially when it comes to what he eats and drinks.

Antonia told UK publication, the Daily Mail, that he cannot eat salty foods and is only allowed to have approximately 850ml of water a day.

If his diet isn't closely monitored, he could relapse, which would mean more swelling and possibly more days in hospital.

Although the disease is manageable, the Watson family is raising money to find a cure for the syndrome, and raising awareness about the condition.

Image credit: iStock