Kidney stone research has made big headlines lately, as a study released last month found that the kidney stone rate had nearly doubled over the past 16 years. Now a new study has looked at the condition in kids and teens and found that more young people than ever are being diagnosed with kidney stones.
For the study, which was published in the Journal of Urology, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester evaluated the annual rate for kidney stones diagnoses in 12- to 17-year-olds. Between 1984 and 1990, the annual rate was 13 cases for every 100,000 kids. Between 2003 and 2008, that figure nearly tripled, to 36 per 100,000 kids. Over the 25-year period from 1984-2008, the rate of kidney stone diagnoses increased by 6 percent each year.
But researchers aren't sure if more teens are actually suffering from kidney stones or if doctors have just gotten better at diagnosing them thanks to highly sensitive CT scans that can detect smaller kidney stones.
For once, the rise in childhood obesity does not seem to be the root of the problem. According to researchers, teens who developed kidney stones were generally of normal weight — both in the 1980s and in more recent years.
Kidney stones develop when the urine contains more crystal-forming substances — like calcium, uric acid and a compound called oxalate (found in foods like star fruit, berries, chocolate, spinach and parsley) — than can be diluted by the available fluid. They cause painful urination, blood in the urine and stools, and pain in the lower back and abdomen.