Young Kids Now Being Diagnosed with Kidney Stones

Lisa Garnes received a call from her daughter’s daycare center that every parent dreads. Emma, her 3-year-old daughter, was sick and doubled over with back pain. Lisa quickly took Emma to her pediatrician who at first thought the child had a urinary tract infection. But an hour later, the toddler was vomiting and so extremely ill that she was rushed to the emergency room. After a battery of tests, including an ultrasound, a diagnosis was made that shocked not only Emma’s mom, but her doctor: Emma had a condition usually found in middle-aged men and almost unheard of in little girls. She had kidney stones.

Was this just some weird and rare fluke? Apparently not, according to Gary Faerber, MD, a urologist at the University of Michigan Health System, who related Emma’s story in a statement to the media. Dr. Faerber is sounding the alarm that there’s a surprising and growing incidence of kidney stones in children. “I am seeing more and more children who have kidney stones,” Dr. Faerber stated. “It’s a real phenomenon.”

Kidney stones are comprised of minerals and acid salts that should be diluted in the urine. But when urine is too concentrated, these materials can crystallize and solidify, forming kidney stones. Passing these objects can be absolutely excruciating. The pain typically starts in the side or back below the ribs and then radiates to the lower abdomen and groin area.

Sometimes they don’t pass by themselves and doctors use lithotripsy (high-energy shock waves) to fragment and disintegrate kidney stones. Little Emma had to suffer through two lithotripsies for her stones and finally had surgery to remove one that didn’t break up sufficiently.

According to the Mayo Clinic web site, kidney stones are typically found most often in males between the ages of 20 and 70 — with middle-aged men being at the highest risk. But why on earth would a toddler girl develop them? Dr. Faerber asserts the growing incidence of kidney stones in children is linked to the modern diet and lifestyle.

Bottom line: kids are growing up drinking too little water and too many sugar-filled drinks. In addition, youngsters who eat a fast-food diet are taking in high amounts of sodium — and that’s a well-known risk factor for the formation of kidney stones, according to Dr. Faerber.

“The sedentary lifestyle we’re starting to see in the younger age group and the pediatric group is also a risk factor because we know that obesity increases the risk of forming kidney stones,” he adds.

Dr. Faerber also thinks there could be a link between global warming and the condition. Warmer temperatures can lead to dehydration which, in turn, causes urine to become highly concentrated, allowing the formation of crystals that can progress into kidney stones.

So what can parents do to protect their children from this potentially painful condition? “The main takeaway is to get your child to stay away from sugar filled drinks, sodas, colas and go to something natural like plain old water,” Dr. Faerber advises.

Kidney stones are not the only health problem previously almost unknown in youngsters but common in middle age. For the past decade, doctors have noted an alarming rise in the cases of children with type 2 diabetes. In fact, experts like pediatrician Francine Ratner Kaufman, MD, head of the Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, have warned type 2 diabetes in youngsters is an “epidemic” fueled — like kidney stones — by too much junk food and too little exercise.

For more information:http://www2.med.umich.edu/prmc/media/newsroom/details.cfm?ID=1129http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/kidney-stones/DS00282/DSECTION=all&METHOD;=printhttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/kidneystones.htmlhttp://health.med.umich.edu/healthcontent.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0&id;=6&action;=detail&AEProductID;=HW%5FKnowledgebase&AEArticleID;=hw204795&AEArticleType;=HealthConditionshttp://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/20/4/217

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