Kidney stones were formerly an issue primarily affecting adults. But recent trends might have made the condition more common among children.
NBC News recently reported that the demographic of those suffering from kidney stones had significantly changed in the past thirty years, as more kids and teens got diagnosed with the condition.
Simply put, kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys. Passing such crystallized deposits is painful. Permanent damage could also occur when left untreated.
Based on statistical figures, the number of yearly kidney stone cases increased by 16% between 1997 and 2012. The greatest surge was documented among 15- to 19-year-old people.
A study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology also indicated that kidney stone cases among children doubled from 1997 to 2012.
The condition also noticeably had a higher rate among black children and adults than their white counterparts. Additionally, more females were diagnosed with kidney stones than males between the 15- and 19-year-old age bracket.
Experts were left baffled by the trend. They surmised that the “rapid” rise in child kidney stone cases could be due to several factors, including climate change, ultra-processed foods and increased use of antibiotics among children, New York Post reported.
“Clearly something has changed in our environment that is causing this rapid shift. They’re otherwise healthy and simply come in with their first kidney stone for unclear reasons,” study lead and pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Dr. Gregory Tasian told NBC.
Antibiotic use is known to cause dehydration in young people. This makes it possible for kidney stones to form among the younger generation.
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In adults, kidney stones are mostly linked to metabolic syndromes, such as diabetes and coronary heart disease. Obesity and hypertension are also associated with this condition.
In response to the increasing number of kidney stone cases affecting the youth, the National Kidney Foundation said hospitals across the country have opened “stone clinics” in hopes of addressing the cases promptly.