New research from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found that kidney stones are increasingly common in young people.
According to work published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology that studied people in South Carolina, there's been a 16 percent climb in the number of people diagnosed with kidney stones between 1997 and 2012, or about 1 percent per year.
"But when we look at specific groups, for example, adolescents, the risk increased by about 5 percent per year," said CHOP pediatric urologist Gregory Tasain. "So it's a dramatically high rate."
Women and more African Americans are also experiencing stones more frequently than in previous decades, although the painful deposits are still more likely in middle-aged white men.
"If kidney stones are starting at a younger age, I worry about these children as they grow into adulthood," said Tasian, who said he has observed the uptick in his own practice. Kidney stones are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, coronary disease, and kidney failure.
It's not clear what's driving the increase, but adequate water intake can help. Tasian said that when he asks his young patients about water access at school, he often hears them say, "'Yeah, there's a water fountain in school, but it's disgusting.'"