What Causes Kidney Stones?
- Building up, but not flushing out: Many times, the building blocks of kidney stones are salt byproducts. The byproducts crystallize, stick together and harden because the child doesn’t drink enough. A child who is dehydrated for long periods is more at risk of developing a kidney stone.
- Runs in the family: A child (or adult) whose relatives had kidney stones is more likely to develop a kidney stone at some point.
- Medical condition: For some children, an abnormal condition in the urinary tract makes it easier for stones to form. The kidney or ureter may be obstructed. The child may have a urinary tract infection. Sometimes, a metabolic condition or disease, such as spina bifida, is the cause.
Kidney stones can pass naturally with good medical advice and attention. When there’s infection, severe pain or an obstruction, expert advice and care are needed to get rid of the stone.
Kidney stones can form in children of any age, even infants. Stones are becoming far more common in school-aged children and teens.
Extra Weight and Salt
“We don’t understand exactly why, but it is possible that this increase is linked to lifestyle factors, like more children becoming heavier and eating diets higher in salt,” says Edward M. Gong, MD, attending physician, Urology. “Excess salt intake means the kidneys may build up more salt as they do their job of filtering the blood.”
Sometimes, the stone blocks the flow of urine from the body. If this happens, waste products can build to harmful levels. This can create infection in the kidney or throughout the body.
If left untreated, the infection can even lead to permanent kidney damage. “If we suspect any of these complications, we’ll take immediate steps to drain your child’s urine and treat any signs of infection,” says Dr. Gong. “We’ll also talk with you about when and how we’ll need to remove the stone.”
Preventing Stones, Keeping Kidneys Healthy
Even in children and teens, kidney stones tend to happen again. We’ll talk to you about what you can do to prevent other kidney stones from forming. Making sure your child drinks enough fluid is extremely important in kidney stone prevention.