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Fast Food May Be Causing Kidney Stones in Children

Doctors are reporting an apparent rise in the number of children suffering from kidney stones, and some are placing the blame on a diet of burgers and fries, and other salty foods. 

While kidney stones are generally considered to be an adult problem, many hospitals are seeing an uptick of pediatric cases. In 2005, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia saw less than a dozen cases of kidney stones the entire year; now they see as many as five a week.

The most prominent symptom of kidney stones is extreme pain.

Kidney stones impede urine flow, causing sharp pain in your back or side (allegedly worse than childbirth). Other symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting, pain and burning while urinating, and blood in the urine.  If not treated, they can lead to kidney damage.

Since kidney stones are calcium-based and a diet high in salt can cause increased calcium levels in urine, some doctors surmise that kidney stones may be related to dietary concerns.

(An aside: Kidney stones in Chinese babies were recently traced back to milk formula tainted with melamine, but no possibility of a similar connection in this country is mentioned.  Odd, since cases of kidney stones are reported in children as young as eight months old, who presumably are not consuming a lot of burgers or canned spaghetti.)

Knock on wood, I’ve never suffered from kidney stones, but I have been regaled with stories of the incredible pain they can cause.  I think we can all agree that’s something we’d like to spare our children.

Prevention is the best medicine:

  • Limit your children’s salt intake by laying off fast foods, as well as canned and other processed foods.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of water.  Four cups of water a day is suggested for the average 10 year old, in addition to other fluids.  Urine output should be very nearly clear.
  • Freshly squeezed citrus juices can also aid in preventing stones from forming.

Keep in mind: these tips are applicable to moms and dads too!


Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan (booleansplit) under Creative Commons


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