What's Causing Teen Girls to Get More Kidney Stones?

This is probably not a headline you expected to see under children’s health instead of geriatric health, but it’s a reality: Research suggests that over decades kidney stones have been increasing in prevalence among kids, especially teen girls, NBC reported. The highest increase is in young girls ages 15 to 19, according to an article published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

What causes kidney stones in kids? There’s not exact evidence, and there are only estimates that kidney stones for kids in their teenage years rose by 26 percent in a five-year period. What doctors do know is that young women have almost double the risk for kidney stones, and that kidney stones are more common in Black kids and teens than their white counterparts.

One of doctors’ main theories is that climate change is actually making the risk for kidney stones worse. As summers get hotter and hotter on record (like this summer), kids and teens can easily get dehydrated when they’re outside sweating and playing and aren’t excreting as much water through the urinary tract. Climate change is just upping the heat each summer.

It’s actually affecting certain areas of the U.S. more than others — the Southeastern part of the country, which is arguably one of the hottest areas of the U.S., is known as the “kidney stone belt” for its high prevalence of kidney stones among all ages. NBC reported that people living in the Southeast have a 50% higher risk of developing kidney stones. More kidney stones can be linked to diet, because loading up on sugar and sodium-heavy processed foods can make it more difficult for the kidneys to flush out; coincidentally, these seem to be staples in Southern cooking, per the Mayo Clinic.

The main things you can do to help your kids or teens stay kidney-stone free is to make sure they’re eating a balanced diet with minimal processed snacks and meats. And in the summer, with kids being more vulnerable to extreme heat and dehydration, encourage them to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  

The correct amount to get your kids to drink is six-to-eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. If they have back pain or signs of dehydration, don’t wait to call your pediatrician, but in general, you can prevent kidney stones with plenty of water to flush out your system.

Before you go, read more about how to stay hydrated:

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