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September 26th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

How do we prevent kidney stones in kids?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Aaron from California:

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?

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.

Ask our doctors a question

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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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. jamie

    I too form Calcium oxalate stones...after over 70 stones (yes 70) i spoke to a dietician (my doctors only advice was to drink more water) With some dietary changes, I have been stone free for 2 years. My biggest dietary culprit was peanut butter, and my favorite dark soda (diet Pepsi). just by elimating those two, helped my tremendously. I now treat my self to my favorite soda once a week, with no problems. Thank you Deanna (my dietician) for saving me. No thanks to my doctor:(

    September 26, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Thank you for being more informative than the article.

      September 26, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......???

      October 17, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
  2. vee

    also, congenital abnormalities (ie. ureteroceles) can contribute to kidney stones in young people.

    September 26, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Oxalatesduh

    Where is the advice to limit oxalates? They are not that common, and easily restricted from the diet!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 26, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. lchin

    Don't let them eat gravel.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. charls

    Make sure that you have adequate Vitamin D. There are test that can determine if you have enough Vitamin D otherwise the calcium in your diet is not used to make bone. Most people; especially anyplace north of Atlanta, GA do not get enough sunshine during winter to make Vitamin D and should be taking a supplement.

    September 26, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ed

    I have dealt with many kidney stones for years. Agree with Jamie – diet changes and lots of water helped a lot. Vitamin D is great, but not too much (1500 Mg daily max for me). I took more (5000 Mg) for a while and made the problem much worse. No stones now for over two years. Everyone is different of course, so it helps to have a doctor/dietician who takes the time to analyze.

    September 26, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kim

    We believe that gluten-issues are the cause of my fiance's kidney stones. Last year was the first year without them, drinking lots of water with lemon/lime juice. This year, we found out that he was gluten intolerant, eliminated the gluten, didn't worry about the kidney stones and no stones this year. Truly believe the gluten was the cause of the kidney stone issue. Doctor was no help with the kidney stones or the gluten issues here either. Gotta love the medical community

    September 26, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BCuro

      Kim. I do love the medical community. I cant stand overweight, lazy pieces of stool that treat their bodies poorly, complain about every little ailment and then expect doctors to fix it. It's even better when you think you know more than we do from your sample of 1 patient (your fiance) and bash the entire medical community. Loser.

      September 26, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
  8. Dr. Speck

    two hours in a 350 degree oven usually works

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  9. Pedro Rebelo

    The increase in fluid intake is important to decrease the growth rate of kidney stones. However, there is scientific evidence that adjuvant factors such as low citrate excretion in urine is a very relevant factor. The kidney stone is not a disease but rather a consequence of an error of metabolism that favors the aggregation of the microcrystals in the urine.
    The hypocitraturia is one of them. So an appointment with your doctor can clarify what needs to be corrected, enabling effective prevention of the formation of new stones.
    Paradoxically doing a very high intake of fluids may even foster a greater formation of kidney stones.

    Dr. Pedro Rebelo MD

    September 26, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Survivor's Husband

    I've had over a hundred and I suspect mine are super jagged uric acid stones. In fact I have a bag full of them in my freezer for some day when I get insurance and can get checked out properly or if not, to string them up to make an unusual necklace. Being that I have lots of practice at these, I've found that drinking mostly water with a slice of lemon squeezed into it GREATLY reduces the occurance frequency I guess from the natural citrate and it also helps when passing them to come out faster. I also found that sugar encreases the frequency as well as foods that gives me heart burn. I've also noticed when I have grown a stone in my kidney and it's about to start it's journney, I personally start to crave sugar and sweets for some reason. Once it's passed the craveing is gone. Drinking the lemon water over time also has eliminated most of my heart burn episodes as well and also I don't catch colds and get sinus infections nearly as much. Let's hear it for the simple lemon! Screw oranges, lemons are where it's at (just don't choke on the seeds :)...............

    September 26, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Al

    I too suffered from kidney stones. Finally figured out the dietary trick: consume calcium oxalate inhibitors and don't consume (or cut back on) the contributors.

    Inhibitors: lemonade – I make my own from concentrate to avoid high fructose corn syrup. Magnesium citrate caplets. Foods with vinegar – the acid helps keep the calcium oxalate from precipitating out as stones.

    Contributors: chocolate, peanut butter, soft drinks.

    I also cut my sodium and increased my potassium (avacados, fish, nuts, mushrooms)

    September 26, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jennifer

    Don't let your kids drink only soda thats how...

    September 27, 2011 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. teresa

    ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......?

    October 17, 2011 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Paul DeFalco

    HI ALL, JUST THOUGHT I'D COMMENT ON THIS AS I'VE HAD 4 KIDNEY STONES AND LITHOTRIPSY BEGINNING IN MY 20S. THE LAST STONE I HAD WAS OVER 12 YEARS AGO BUT BEFORE THAT I WAS GETTING THEM EVERY 3-4 YEARS. I RAN INTO AN ELDERLY MAN WHILE I WAS GETTING A NUCLEAR SCAN DONE FOR MY LAST STONE, (WHICH THEY MISSED FINDING EVEN THOUGH IT WAS 7MM!) ANYWAY, THE OLD MAN HAD BEEN GETTING STONES ALL HIS LIFE UNTIL A HOLISTIC DOCTOR TOLD HIM TO DRINK LOTS OF LEMONADE. HE NEVER GOT ONE AGAIN! I TOOK HIS ADVICE, I DRINK REAL LEMONADE AND OTHER FRUIT JUICES CONTAINING CITRIC ACID WHICH IS WHAT I BELIEVE MAKES IT WORK, AND I'VE BEEN STONE FREE FOR OVER A DECADE, EVEN THOUGH MY CALCIUM IS STILL ABNORMALLY HIGH ON BLOOD TESTS! GIVE IT A SHOT...WORKS FOR ME!

    May 21, 2012 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 29, 2012 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. sandra westfall

    My daughter is 13 and has trace amounts of CA oxalate crystals and trace amorphous curates, should i get her urine checked every so often or is there no need to be concerned? My daughter was adopted and little is known about the health of her birth family. Any information would be greatly appreciated!

    January 14, 2014 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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    how do one know he/she have a kidney stone and what are the ways for him/her to cure it?

    September 3, 2014 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.