Pediatric HealthSource: Kidney Stones in Children

Andrew Schwaderer, MD

Q: Is it possible for my son to experience kidney stones, even though he's so young?

A: Parents may be surprised to learn that kidney stones can develop not only in adults, but also in children. Kidney stones are much more common in grown-ups, but even babies can—and do—get them, and they are becoming more frequent in childhood than they used to be.

Dehydration, high levels of salt intake, certain medications and chronic urinary tract infections increase a child's risk for kidney stones. Symptoms include severe pain in the abdomen or the side, nausea and vomiting, discomfort while urinating, frequent urination and blood in the urine. Some stones, because of their small size, don't cause any symptoms and are discovered on an X-ray or an ultrasound done for an unrelated reason.

Your child's pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric nephrologist for further treatment. Imaging tests often are used to get a better look at the kidneys. If a stone is found, imaging tests can show its size and location, which helps physicians decide on the best treatment. Some kidney stones can be treated with plenty of fluids and medications, while others may require surgery or other more involved treatments.

Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health.

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Preventive Measures 

Kidney stones can be a painful experience for adults and children alike. In order to find the root cause, and to help prevent future kidney stones, parents should:

Give a thorough family history. Approximately 70 percent of children with kidney stones have a first- or second-degree relative who has had them. Parents also should be willing to discuss family experience with osteoporosis and bone complications. The majority of stones are calcium-based, and there is an association between kidney stones and low bone density.

Keep kids hydrated. Drinking water not only helps keep the kidneys healthy, but also is one of the best ways to prevent urinary tract infections.

Cut the salt. Diets high in sodium cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium into the urine, which may contribute to the creation of stones.