Well, this is alarming.
According to a new study led by researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, kidney stones are on the rise among American youth, specifically females and African-Americans.
In the past, middle-aged white men have had the highest risk for developing kidney stones. "The emergence of kidney stones in children is particularly worrisome because there is limited evidence on how to best treat children for this condition," said lead author Gregory E. Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at CHOP. "The fact that stones were once rare and are now increasingly common could contribute to the inappropriate use of diagnostic tests such as CT scans for children with kidney stones."
Tasian added that the increased frequency among adolescents, particularly young women, is concerning when you consider that kidney stones are associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease, as well as cardiovascular and bone disease.
Researchers have been aware of the overall increase in kidney stones in children and adolescents, but the current study provided more clarity on specific groups of patients at greatest risk by analyzing age, race, and sex characteristics among 153,000 children and adults in South Carolina over a 16-year period.
Between 1997 and 2012, the risk of kidney stones doubled during childhood for both boys and girls, while there was a 45 percent increase in the lifetime risk for women. The greatest rates of increase were among adolescents (4.7 percent per year), females (3 percent per year), and African-Americans (2.9 percent per year). Among patients between the ages of 10 and 24, females more frequently developed kidney stones than men, but after age 25, kidney stones became more common among men.
Tasian said possible factors could include poor water intake and dietary habits, such as an increase in sodium and a decrease in calcium intake. But the current study did not examine dietary differences. He added that the age, sex, and race differences that his team found among kidney stone patients will require further study, but that the patterns they found may help physicians and public health officials design targeted prevention strategies for people at higher risk for the condition.