Kidney stone incidence among teens has been escalating in the United States, most likely as a result of inadequate water intake and unhealthy lifestyles.
This was the key finding of a study featured on Thursday, January 14, in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Experts led by Gregory Tasian, attending pediatric urologist at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, reviewed medical data collected in South Carolina, between 1997 and 2012.
The purpose was to identify trends concerning the prevalence of kidney stones, also known as renal calculi or nephrolithiasis.
These are basically solid fragments of minerals combined with acid salts, that appear in the kidneys, causing the individual tremendous discomfort as they pass through the urinary tract and are eventually ejected from the body.
In around 30% of the cases, the deposits have to be removed via surgery, while the rest of the situations involve passing the stones through the urethra, the pain being so excruciating at times that it has even been compared with childbirth.
By analyzing the number of patients affected by renal lithiasis (around 153,000 people) against the total number of subjects included in the survey (4.6 million), it was determined that during the study period the prevalence of such diagnoses among adolescents had soared by around 4.7% on an annual basis.
In addition, the incidence of this condition rose by approximately 2.9% among the black population, and by roughly 3% among females, every single year.
Overall, in the time interval reviewed by the study authors, the probability of developing kidney stones doubled among American children, and climbed by as much as 45% among women.
For those in the 10-24 age bracket, diagnostic rates were much more elevated among females than among their male counterparts; in contrast, for subjects aged 25 and upwards, renal calculi became much more frequent among men, risks being approximately 15% higher for African-Americans.
Given these recent findings, study authors point out that more emphasis should be placed on consuming plenty of water on a daily basis, given that dehydration is the primary source contributing to the accumulation of kidney stones, and it’s an increasingly more common issue nowadays as a result of global warming.
Moreover, dietary guidelines should be more strictly followed, by renouncing excessively salty foods and focusing on a higher intake of calcium-rich products, such as cheese, yogurt, milk, leafy greens, soybeans and sardines.
Kids should be the first to adopt such preemptive steps, especially since little is known regarding the optimal medical treatment they should follow, as the alarming incidence of kidney stones among this age group is virtually unprecedented.
In the past, renal lithiasis was quite an uncommon occurrence, usually affecting middle-aged Caucasian men.
The fact that now the condition has become so ubiquitous among other population categories as well often puts medical practitioners at a loss when it comes to diagnosing it correctly, sometimes resorting to harmful radiation-filled CAT scans, instead of equally effective ultrasounds.
The presence of kidney stones has previously been correlated with other health issues, including heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, osteoporosis and chronic renal disease.
As study authors point out, such susceptibility is especially high among younger females, which is why more efforts should be taken to avoid developing kidney stones in the first place.
Image Source: Flickr