Kidney Stones in Kids

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that develop in the kidneys and if you've ever had them or known someone who has, you know how incredibly painful they can be. Over the past 20 years, the number of Americans who have developed kidney stones has increased by 70% and the fastest increase has been in kids.

Taylor Riggins takes a water-filled plastic mug everywhere and it's close by at home. And on the sports field Taylor is doing everything she can to stay healthy after a scare last year.

"I went to sleep and I kept throwing up," Taylor told Ivanhoe.

After weeks of doctor's visits, the Riggins took Taylor to a specialist, who diagnosed her problem.

Taylor's mother, Marian Riggins told Ivanhoe, "I didn't believe it. Honestly I just thought no way, kidney stones are for people my age."

Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, Pediatric Urologist and Clinical Epidemiologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says kidney stones are on the rise in kids, by as much as 6% every year. Our diets could be to blame.

Tasian told Ivanhoe, "In the United States about 85% of children don't drink enough water."

Here's one estimate for parents to follow:  kids ages four to eight need at least 46 ounces of water a day. Girls age nine to 13 need at least 57 ounces of water and boys age nine to 13 need 65.

Doctors also recommend all kids decrease salt intake to less than two grams every day.

The Riggins have completely changed the way they think about mealtime, so they can avoid extra salt.

"Zero processed foods. We don't eat any fast foods," Marian told Ivanhoe.

While dinner takes more preparation, the Riggins say it's time well-spent if they can prevent kidney stones in the future.

Tasian says kidney stones can come back quickly without changes to diet or behavior. Decreasing salt intake and drinking more water can reduce the risk of recurrence. In the warmer weather months, when the temperature goes above 83 degrees, the chance of developing kidney stones goes up by 35%.

BACKGROUND: It is estimated that as many as a million Americans will get kidney stones this year. Kidney stones, also known as Renal Calculi, form in the kidneys when tiny mineral crystals in the urine stick together. The stone doesn't cause symptoms until it passes from the kidney to the connecting tube called the ureter. Here it can cause severe pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin. Cloudy, brown, red or foul-smelling urine, nausea or vomiting can also result from a kidney stone. The size of a kidney stone can range from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball. Small stones usually don't require invasive treatment and may be passed with the help of lots of water and pain relievers. Large stones, which are rarer, may be treated with surgery or sound waves to break up the stone.  (Sources: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/k/kidney_stones/stats.htm, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022762/, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/basics/treatment/con-20024829)

POSSIBLE RISKS: Kidney stones do not have a definite cause, but there are some things that can increase the risk of getting them. Family history of kidney stones puts you at a higher risk of developing them. Also dehydration can increase the risk of getting kidney stones. Those who live in warmer climates or who sweat a lot, therefore, may have an increased risk. Diets that are high in protein, sodium or sugar also make developing certain types of kidney stones more likely. Obesity and certain digestive diseases have also been linked to having an increased risk of developing kidney stones.  

(Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/basics/risk-factors/con-20024829)

KIDNEY STONES AND CHILDREN:  Taylor was ultimately treated at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors have noticed an increase in the amount of kidney stones in the past 20 or 30 years, particularly in children. "The number of stones that we've seen over a short period of time has risen dramatically," Dr. Gregory Tasian, urologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Ivanhoe. Part of the reason could be in their diets. Nearly 75 percent of people around the world daily consume significantly more salt than is recommended.  When it comes to sugar, the average American child is consuming 32 teaspoons per day, more than three times the recommended amount. "You want to stay away from salty food and maintain a sodium intake of less than two grams per day," Dr. Tasian said. (Source:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/salt-health-deaths-consumption-sodium-heart_n_2916888.html, Dr. Gregory Tasian, MD, urologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, http://dailyhealthpost.com/the-american-sugar-consumption/)

* For More Information, Contact:

Ashley Moore

Public Relations Specialist

The Department of Surgery,

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia



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