Lisa Garnes remembers getting the call from her daughter’s daycare. Three-year-old Emma was doubled over with severe back pains, and the reason came as a total shock.
“We got to the emergency room,” Lisa recalls. “They did a bunch of tests and they did an ultrasound and they came back and said, she’s got a kidney stone.”
Doctors are now seeing a rise in kidney stones in young children, a condition typically affecting adults in middle age. And it’s often overlooked as the cause of back and belly pain because people aren’t expecting kidney stones to be an issue so early in life.
Urologist Dr. Gary Faerber, with the University of Michigan Health System, says, poor lifestyle has a lot to do with the rising incidence.
“High sodium, certainly fast foods which have high sodium contents, put people and children at risk of forming kidney stones,” says Dr. Faerber. “The sedentary lifestyle that we’re starting to see in the younger age group and the pediatric group is also a risk factor because we know that obesity increases the risk of forming kidney stones.”
Sugar-filled drinks are also a contributing factor, as are foods with high oxalate levels, including nuts, chocolate, green leafy vegetables and fruits like strawberries. Now we know the fruits and veggies are good for your overall health, but too much in a child at risk are not a good idea.
There are different treatments, including waiting for the stone to pass on its own, and shockwave therapy, in which the stone is broken up into smaller pieces.
That’s the treatment that worked for little Emma, who is now doing well. But Dr. Faerber says, it’s important that kids get away from all those sugary drinks, and opt for plain old water instead. Staying hydrated is key.
So it’s not just expanding waistlines and rising blood pressure afflicting our children. Kidney stones are now another example of how poor lifestyle is catching up with our kids, and their health.