Kids and their battles with kidney stones

Ivanhoe Newswire – Apr 28, 2024 – SEE ORIGINAL STORY

When you think of kidney stones, you may think of middle-aged men.

But that’s changed dramatically over the last 20 years. More women are now experiencing them. 11% of Americans will have a kidney stone at some point.

It’s less common in children, but even that’s changing. And for children, it can be a life-long battle.

For such a little guy, 4-year-old Alex Zellers has been dealing with a big problem.

Zellers has a kidney stone the size of a golf ball and another in his bladder the size of a lacrosse ball.

“It’s just like a giant dense egg. It’s just a big mass,” said Kate Zellers, Alex’s Mom.

Zellers was born with a genetic disease called Cystinuria.

Greg Tasian, a Pediatric Urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said, “Your body doesn’t absorb certain amino acids, and that cystine accumulates and crystallizes in the urine, forming stones early in life.”

Zellers has recurrent UTIs and blood in his urine—there is no cure.

“You develop stones very early in life, and that continues through the lifespan,” added Dr. Tasian.

Dr. Tasian said the stones were so large he had to surgically remove them, and although Alex’s stones are rare. He also sees more and more kids with kidney stones.

Dr. Tasian said the cause is a combination of factors, including kids eating more ultra-processed foods, overuse of antibiotics, and hotter temperatures causing dehydration.

“As the world becomes warmer through climate change, that is expected to increase the number of stones,” said Dr. Tasian.

The three most important things you can do are to drink plenty of water, consume fewer sugary drinks, and decrease your salt intake.

As for Alex, he will always be at risk for developing stones—but with careful watching and medication—they should be able to control them.

Stones can cause a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as a higher risk of fractures and loss of kidney function.

Studies show that both boys and girls are at risk of kidney stones, but they tend to happen more in teen girls.