Kidney stones are becoming increasingly prevalent among Black children. (Courtesy Photo)

New research, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, found that more focused efforts are  needed to prevent Blacks, children, and women from developing debilitating kidney conditions.

Based on records from 153,000 patients, kidney stones are increasingly common among adolescents, females, and Blacks, primarily because of obesity caused by poor nutrition and exercise habits. According to the study, published Jan. 14 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, kidney stones are often associated with much older populations.

“The emergence of kidney stones in children is particularly worrisome, because there is limited evidence on how to best treat children for this condition,” said Dr. Gregory E. Tasian, a pediatric urologist and the study’s leader.

Tasian assessed records from children and adult patients over a 16-year period, and found that among Black patients, kidney stones increased 15 percent more than in Whites within each five-year period covered by the study.

Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside kidneys. Made of mineral and acid salts that can affect any part of the urinary tract – including the bladder – stones form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. While kidney stones are not usually dangerous, according to Tasian’s report, they can be very painful to pass through the urinary tract and in some cases require surgery to remove.  And while White men have previously made up the bulk of kidney stone patients, childhood obesity and its links to diabetes in young Black children has led researchers to re-evaluate diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Dennis Kubinski, a urologist with the National Kidney Stone Center, said he wasn’t surprised by the new study’s results concerning overweight children because insulin-related imbalances increase calcium development. “Childhood obesity is becoming more and more common, and obesity is strongly correlated with kidney stones,” he said in a statement of the results. “We don’t see a ton of kids in our practice, but obviously the percentage of kids getting kidney stones is going up so we’re seeing an increase.  A lot of that has to do with processed food – potato chips, fries, and even sports drinks that are very high in sodium.”

Jacinta Grison, a D.C.-based nutritionist said the results are unsettling, but also fixable. “We must begin demanding healthy and fresh foods for our children – especially those on meal plans and who live in food deserts,” Grison told the AFRO. “These are the children who are overweight from eating high-sodium, high-sugar foods that are heavily processed, but filling.  Because they contain little to no nutritional value, these kids face malnourishment, coupled with diseases that generally only face senior citizen populations.”