Every year a half million people visit an emergency room because of kidney stones and a growing percentage of them are infants, children and teenagers.
The pain is excruciating and has been described by many as “the worst pain I have ever had.” The stones can cause intense pain in the back, side, abdomen or groin and can make sufferers sick to their stomach.
When children get them they miss school and other activities, and their parents often go through a great deal of stress and expense in caring for them.
So what causes this horrible thing, especially in children?
A study by Children’s Hospital of Michigan published in the Pediatric Nephrology medical journal shows that excess lipoproteins and fatty acids may be the culprit.
Yup, it looks like it’s in what the kids eat.
The answer may well be to reduce the fats their diets, says Dr. Larisa G. Kovacevic, medical director of DMC’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan Urology Department Multidisciplinary Pediatric Stone Clinic, who led the study.
“Additional new findings in this area could very well lead to new treatment options in which reducing fat intake, along with preventing childhood obesity and overweight, could become important goals in helping to lessen the impact of this often debilitating health condition,” she says.
In order to reach that conclusion, the three-year study looked for the presence of a specialized group of “lipid metabolism and transport-related proteins” in 16 children with kidney stones, then compared the results with the levels of similar transport proteins in 14 children who were free of the stones.
The finding suggested pediatric clinicians may need to provide better treatment for kids with kidney stones by checking their cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels, Kovacevic says. If they are elevated the kids need to reduce their intake of fat and will also need effective medications.
“This is the first study to ever show that there is a marked increase in urinary excretion of these lipid metabolism and transport-related proteins in children with kidney stones,” she says.
The study was funded by the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation.
“The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Pediatric Stone Clinic is unique in Michigan because it takes a truly multidisciplinary approach to treating children with this problem,” Kovacevic says. “The team includes a nephrologist, a urologist, and a dietitian, which means that we can bring a wide variety of trained specialists to the crucial task of helping children who struggle with this disorder.”
The team included Dr. Yegappan Lakshmanan, chief of Urology at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and Dr. Hong Lu, Dr. Joseph A. Caruso and Dr. Ronald Thomas, with support from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Urology staff.
Here is a link to the study.