Once associated with middle age, kidney stones are growing more common among US children, the New York Times reports. A few decades ago, physicians would “see a kid with a stone once every few months,” says one doctor. “Now we see kids once a week or less.” The increase comes from factors like salty diets and drinking too little water; some doctors link the stones to childhood obesity.
Salty foods and lack of water increase the likelihood that calcium and the byproduct oxalate will bind to create the stones. Processed sandwich meats and canned soups can be salt culprits, and kids don’t hydrate for fear of a bathroom trip during the busy school day, experts say. The stones can lead to severe pain in the side or stomach, and if they don’t pass naturally, minor surgery can help.