Kids and Their Battles with Kidney Stones


PHILLADELPHIA, Penn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — When you think of kidney stones, you may think of middle-aged men. But that’s changed dramatically over the last 20 years.  More women are now experiencing them.  In fact, 11 percent of Americans will have a kidney stone at some point in their lives. It’s less common in children, but even that’s changing. And for children, it can be a life-long battle.

Four-year-old Alex Zellers knows what he likes …

For such a little guy, he’s been dealing with a very big problem.

One in his kidney the size of a golf ball. Another in his bladder the size of a lacrosse ball.

Alex’s mom, Kate, says, “It’s just like a giant dense egg. It’s just a big mass.”

Alex was born with a genetic disease called Cystinuria.

Greg Tasian, MD, Pediatric Urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says, “Your body doesn’t absorb certain amino acids and that cystine accumulates and crystallizes in the urine forming stones early in life.”

Alex has recurrent UTI’s and blood in his urine—there is no cure.

“You develop stones very early in life and that continues through the lifespan.” Explains Doctor Tasian.

Doctor Tasian says the stones were so large he had to surgically remove them and although Alex’s stones are rare, Doctor Tasian says he is seeing more and more kids with kidney stones. The cause?  A combination of factors including kids eating more ultra processed foods, overuse of antibiotics and hotter temperatures causing dehydration.

Doctor Tasian says, “As the world becomes warmer through climate change, that is expected to increase the number of stones.”

The three most important things you can do—drink plenty of water, drink less sugary drinks and decrease your salt intake.

As for Alex, he will always be at risk for developing stones—but with careful watching and medication—they should be able to control them.

Stones can cause higher risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as higher risk of fractures, and loss of kidney function. Studies show that both boys and girls are at risk of kidney stones, but they tend to happen more in teen girls.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kevin Hale, Editor. Kirk Manson, Videographer.


REPORT #3171

BACKGROUND: Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. These stones can affect any part of your urinary tract, from your kidneys to your bladder. They usually form when urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. Several factors can lead to the formation of kidney stones, including your diet, excess body weight, certain medical conditions, as well as supplements and medications. Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful, but they usually cause no permanent damage if they are recognized in a timely fashion. However, in some instances, such as when the stones become lodged in the urinary tract, are associated with a urinary infection, or cause complications, surgery may be necessary.


HOW CAN KIDS GET KIDNEY STONES: Kidney stones are formed in children when there is an excess of minerals that make up the stones and a lack of water in their urine. This can happen either due to abnormally high mineral content in the urine or because the urine is too concentrated because of dehydration. Some children with kidney stones do not experience any symptoms. These stones are still in the kidney and are referred to as “silent stones.” Other children may experience severe pain due to urinary obstruction. Common symptoms of kidney stones include abdominal, flank (side), back, or groin pain, blood in the urine, frequent urination, nausea, and vomiting. Kidney stones can affect different children in different ways. Young children may have vague symptoms that can make diagnosis challenging. Any child with pain accompanied by blood in their urine, even if it is just a small amount, should be evaluated by a doctor.

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PREVENTION: It is essential for children and teenagers to consume an adequate amount of water to prevent kidney stones. They should drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Research has shown that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can decrease the possibility of developing kidney stones. In case a child or teenager has already had kidney stones, it is necessary to know the kind they had based on the type of kidney stone. Changes in the intake of sodium, animal protein, calcium, or oxalate may be helpful in preventing kidney stones.

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* For More Information, Contact:             Kaila Revello, Senior Public Relations Specialist

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


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