Just the phrase “kidney stones” is enough to send a shudder through most people. And when you imagine this gut-wrenching pain being visited upon a small child, well… it sounds cruel beyond belief. But anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that more and more kids are becoming afflicted with the intense pain of kidney stones. And some are blaming salty junk foods.
Kidney stones are formed when salts and other minerals found in urine become crystallized into solids. Stones block the urine flow until the body “passes” them through the urination. The process of passing these stones- which can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball (stones that large require surgery) – is excruciating. Some people say it’s even more painful than childbirth.
Usually, kidney stones have been the domain of adults. But many hospitals have noted a small but significant rise in the incidence among kids. Baltimore’s John Hopkins Children Center gets calls about new cases each week. Years ago, there would be fewer than five cases each year.
Dr. Uri Alon, the director of Children’s Mercy Hospital’s bone and mineral disorders clinic in Kansas City, says most of kidney stones in kids are calcium-based, and come from a combination of eating habits and drinking too little water.
Dr.David Hatch, of Loyola University Medical Center, has seen a spike in pediatric kidney stone cases, including an infant whose mother discovered a kidney stone the size of a pea in the baby’s diaper. One can only imagine the pain.
And here’s the worst part for kids: Generally, surgeons prefer to let the body expel stones the old- fashioned and painful way. If the body doesn’t succeed in passing the stones on its own, urinary tract scopes are inserted to break up and clear away the stone.
There is some question as to whether these scattered reports represent an actual spike in pediatric kidney stones, or the illusion of more cases due to the fact that medical technology makes the stones easier to detect.
Either way, it’s still a good idea for everyone – adults and kids alike – to remove sodium-laden manufactured foods from their lives.
Where to continue making healthful changes? Get Ann Wigmore’s RECIPES FOR LONGER LIFE.