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Kidney Stones Increase In U.S. Children

Armen Hareyan's picture

In the past, kidney stones were thought to occur just in adults unless a child had a genetic condition, such as Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome. I had a teenage patient with a variant of this disorder and kept in close touch with Dr. William Nyhan, who described the disorder along with a medical student. The youth did well until a physician stopped the medication that Dr. Nyhan told me to prescribe to block the development of the kidney stones. Then the youth developed an extremely painful kidney stone. So parents have to always be advocates for their kids and know if a physician is in error.

Now almost fifty percent of the children who are developing kidney stones do not have a genetic condition or a family history. The experts are attributing this to an increase in the amount of salty foods that are eaten and a decrease in the intake of water. Even Gatorade is said to contain a fair amount of salt. Of course, chips, french fries, canned soups, sandwich meats, and foods with considerable fat are also high in salt. So, a good diet is very important for kids, particularly those who are obese or where there is a family history of kidney stones.

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If an ER doctor, family physician, or pediatrician thinks a child's abdominal pain is due to appendicitis and doesn't consider a kidney stone, then parents must speak up. Constipation, too, can cause quite severe abdominal pain.

All parents have to be strong advocates for their kids in these days of fragmented medicine, too much use of technology, and too little interest in taking a good history, family history, or doing a thorough physical examination.

Dr. Charlotte Thompson has been a practicing physician for fifty years. She is a board certified pediatrician and in 2005-2006 was named as one of the top pediatricians in the U.S. Her special area of expertise is in children's neuromuscular disorders.