Dr. Barbara Huggins

Kidney Stones in Children

March 22, 2007

Kidney Stones in Children -  March 22, 2007Kidney stones are often described by those who have had one, as the most painful experience they have ever had. Thankfully, children are rarely the target of this malady that affects mostly adults. Dr. Mom shares how this unusual occurrence in children is becoming more frequent.

We all know or have heard of one of our adult friends having problems with kidney stones. However, kidney stones in children was at one time almost unheard of, but is now becoming a fairly common condition. In fact, physicians are now seeing 10 times as many children with kidney stones than in previous years.

While doctors have yet to determine the cause of the increase, most pediatricians agree that too much salt and too little drinking water in children's diets are probably the main culprits. This is not totally surprising since so many other conditions are on the rise in children due to poor diet, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are crystalline structures formed in the urinary tract. Stones start out small and gradually grow larger. Most stones are formed in the kidney. Most commonly, stones will enlarge over time and may move around causing pain which is due to obstruction of urine flow.

How common are kidney stones in children?
In one clinic, pediatricians saw 5 cases a year, and now are seeing approximately 1 case per week. Once a child makes a stone, there is a 50% chance of forming another stone in 5-10 years without treatment.

How are kidney stones diagnosed?
A kidney stone attack can be determined by the type of pain a stone produces. A urine test may show blood or crystals in the urine. An ultrasound or a CT scan may be necessary to determine if a child has kidney stone. Kidney stones often cause urinary tract infections and the diagnosis of kidney stones may be overlooked. For this reason, if your child is still having problems after treatment for urinary tract infection, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician.

What do I look for?
How can I help prevent kidney stones?
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