Kidney stones on the rise among kids, especially in the summer

Kidney stones, once considered a disorder mostly for adults, are showing up in children more than ever.

Kidney stones, hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys, can affect any part of the urinary tract and often are incredibly painful to pass. According to researchers, cases of children and teens with kidney stones have increased steadily over the past two decades.

“Our practice sees multiple kids a month for kidney stones,” said Eran Rosenberg, M.D., urologist with Norton Children’s Urology. “And the numbers are growing each year.”

Different studies mention different ages and gender groups, so it is hard to pinpoint a specific group at risk. But for why more kids are developing kidney stones, Dr. Rosenberg points to the evolution of the sodium-filled American diet.

“The chances of developing kidney stones increase when children eat more salt,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “Excess salt has to be excreted through the kidneys, but salt binds to calcium on its way out, creating a greater concentration of calcium in the urine and the kidneys.”

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Dr. Rosenberg, who currently is conducting his own research on how to better diagnose kidney stones, said some people fall victim to genetics.

“About half of children with kidney stones have a family history of the disease,” he said. “It’s important to recognize those children have a higher risk for developing kidney stones at some point in their life.”

But what’s the best way to prevent kidney stones? Aside from limiting salt, Dr. Rosenberg said drinking water is key.

“We see more kids with kidney stones in the summer because they’re more likely to become dehydrated,” he said. “Water helps flush out the system and keeps those deposits from building up.”

A kidney stone may cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain during urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present
  • Urinating small amounts

Seek immediate medical attention if your child experiences the following:

  • Pain so severe that he or she can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Pain accompanied by fever and chills
  • Blood in urine
  • Difficulty passing urine


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