Doctors don’t know why more children are turning up at hospitals and clinics with kidney stones – a painful problem usually found in adults – but it is likely tied to poor diet and obesity.
“Pediatric cases of kidney stones are steadily increasing at a rate of 4 percent annually,” says Dr. Casey Seideman, a pediatric urologist at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “If there is a family history of the disease, there may be higher risk, but most children with kidney stones don’t have a genetic or metabolic condition.”
“With kids, it’s very important to find the underlying cause to reduce the risk of another stone forming,” Dr. Seideman continues.
Kidney stones are made up of crystalized minerals and salts, so dehydration and high salt levels are major risk factors for forming stones. To prevent painful stones, parents should encourage children to drink liquids frequently.
Dr. Seideman says symptoms include severe abdominal pain or blood in the urine, which requires an evaluation by a specialist in urinary tract issues. The child may need imaging to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the size of the stone, surgery may be needed.
Any kid with a kidney stone is considered high risk for developing another one, Dr. Seideman says. Doctors can test the electrolyte levels in a child’s urine and study the stone (if caught) for information on why the stone formed and how to prevent another one.
“Kidney care is complicated, so we bring together several different experts in one location so we can have better care and communication with our patients,” Dr. Seideman explains. In addition to a kidney specialist, Doernbecher’s team includes a dietitian who works with families to make dietary changes to prevent future kidney stones.
This article was written by Cheryl P. Rose and originally appeared in the Portland Monthly 2018 Kids’ Health Annual magazine.