Experts are speculating that climate change and other factors are driving the increase in kidney stone cases among children and teens.
Experts told NBC News that just three decades ago, kidney stones were largely a disease that affected middle-aged White men, but they now increasingly affect children and teens, especially in the summer.
The number of annual kidney stone cases increased by 16% from 1997 to 2012, according to a Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, with 15- to 19-year-olds seeing the greatest increase in cases. Kidney stone incidents were 52% higher among females within this age bracket while males become more susceptible to the disease at age 25, according to NBC News.
Kidney stones among children doubled from 1997 to 2012, according to the study, while Black children and adults suffered kidney stones at a higher rate than their White peers.
Kidney stones occur when urine becomes too concentrated and minerals such as calcium and uric acid salts in urine crystalize.
“The summary is that hot days increase the frequency of kidney stone events, presentations,” he continued. “The risk of these events is higher among males than females and better predicted by moist heat metrics such as heat index or wet bulb temperatures than the commonly used dry heat.”
“While it is unlikely that climate change has been a significant contributor to the increase in kidney stones among children and adults over the last 20 years, it is likely that climate change will increase the number of people affected by stones in the future,” Tasian said.
Kidney stones in adults are typically linked to conditions such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, but that’s not the case with children, Tasian told NBC News.
“Clearly something has changed in our environment that is causing this rapid shift,” Tasian said.