Kidney Stones Getting Common Among Children Especially Girls During Summer

Kidney Stones in Children

Three decades ago, kidney stones were predominantly seen as a condition afflicting middle-aged white men. Today, however, medical professionals are encountering a shift in the demographics of those affected by this excruciating ailment, particularly during the summer months.

Emerging data reveals that kidney stones, hardened mineral and salt deposits that can obstruct the urinary tract, are increasingly occurring among younger individuals, with teenage girls being notably affected.

The reasons behind this trend remain unclear to experts, who speculate that multiple factors are contributing. These include diets rich in ultraprocessed foods, early-life use of antibiotics, and the impact of climate change leading to increased dehydration cases.

Doctors interviewed observe a higher incidence of kidney stones among children during summer compared to other seasons.

This condition, known scientifically as nephrolithiasis, occurs when minerals such as calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus accumulate in urine, forming solid, yellowish crystals ranging from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball in severe cases.

While some stones pass through the urinary tract without issues, others can become lodged, obstructing urine flow and causing intense pain and bleeding.

In response to rising cases, hospitals nationwide have established specialized pediatric “stone clinics” where children can receive comprehensive care from urologists, nephrologists, and nutritionists aimed at treating current stones and preventing future occurrences.

Unlike adults, whose kidney stones are often associated with metabolic conditions like obesity and diabetes, children affected often present with stones despite being otherwise healthy.

Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, notes the urgent need to understand the environmental shifts driving this change.

Kidney Stones Visualization (Photo: Getty Images)

Approximately 10% of the U.S. population will experience kidney stones during their lifetime, according to the National Kidney Foundation, with cases reported in children as young as five years old.

Chloe Carroll’s experience illustrates the impact on younger demographics. At just eight years old, Chloe noticed blood in her urine during a dance recital, leading to her diagnosis with kidney stones.

She subsequently underwent three surgeries by age 11 to remove stones, reflecting a challenging aspect of her young life.

Research led by Dr. Tasian has highlighted concerning trends, including a 16% rise in kidney stone incidence among teenagers from 1997 to 2012, with particularly sharp increases among adolescent girls. These findings underscore the need for targeted investigation into contributing factors.

Experts also suggest a potential link between diet and kidney stones, with high sodium intake from common foods like chips and processed meats implicated in stone formation, especially when combined with inadequate hydration.

The impact of hotter summers is also significant, as increased sweating and reduced urination can facilitate stone formation in the kidneys and urinary tract.

Dr. Christina Carpenter from New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital notes a seasonal uptick in cases during summer, echoing broader research linking higher temperatures to increased medical visits for kidney stones.

Moreover, antibiotics may play a role in altering gut bacteria in ways that promote kidney stone development, according to Dr. Tasian’s research. He underscores the need for cautious antibiotic use, particularly in children, as a potential driver of increased kidney stone prevalence.

The implications of early kidney stone development are far-reaching, potentially leading to severe complications such as kidney function loss, decreased bone density, and heightened risk of heart disease later in life.

The recurrence rate for children is notable, with a 50% chance of developing another stone within five to seven years.

Despite these challenges, effective treatment strategies tailored to pediatric patients remain limited, underscoring the urgent need for further research and clinical guidelines.

Symptoms of kidney stones can vary, from sharp pains in the back, lower abdomen, and groin to changes in urine color and consistency. Encouraging hydration, particularly during warmer months, is recommended as a preventive measure.

As Dr. Carpenter advises, ensuring urine remains a light lemonade color serves as a simple indicator of adequate hydration. Darker urine may signal the need for increased fluid intake to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.

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Categorized as Health

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