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How do we prevent kidney stones in kids?

Asked by Aaron, California

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My 12-year-old daughter was found to have calcium oxalate crystals in her urine. The doctor said to watch out for kidney stones, which happen to run in our family. What should we do to prevent my daughter from developing stones?

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Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thank you for your question. Kidney stones are common, affecting around 10% of the population at some point during their lifetimes.

These stones are caused by having too much calcium and other substances in the urine.

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type and affect men more often than women, typically between 20 and 30 years of age. Children can also develop kidney stones but much less frequently; it is estimated that only about 4% of all stones occur in individuals between the ages of 10 and 19.

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One of the best ways to prevent stones from forming is to drink enough fluids -- to the point that one's urine is clear or pale yellow (roughly about 2 liters of urine production per day in children over 10 and adults).

It's best to stick with water as much as possible, rather than sweetened beverages such as sodas.

It can also be helpful to limit salt and animal proteins or consume them in moderation. Other dietary changes, vitamins/minerals, or medications may be recommended.

Of note, however, it is usually not necessary to limit the intake of calcium, although your doctor may advise your daughter to avoid excessive calcium (from supplements, for example).

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