In the past, it was a disease that primarily affected older white men.
Now, kids and teens — particularly girls — are being diagnosed with kidney stones.
The demographic of those most likely to suffer from kidney stones has changed in three decades, according to a report from NBC News.
According to a study conducted by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, kidney stones among children doubled from 1997 to 2012, with the research noting that black children and adults suffered kidney stones at a higher rate than their white counterparts.
The number of annual kidney stone cases increased by 16% from 1997 to 2012, with the greatest increase in 15- to 19-year-olds. However, in that age bracket, 52% of cases were in females — with males becoming more susceptible to the disease at age 25, per NBC News.
Experts said they’re not exactly sure why cases have risen so dramatically but speculated that climate change, ultra-processed foods and the increased use of antibiotics in kids are causing dehydration — and therefore an incidence increase.
However, that is not the case in children.
“Clearly something has changed in our environment that is causing this rapid shift,” study lead Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NBC. “They’re otherwise healthy and simply come in with their first kidney stone for unclear reasons.”
About 10% of people in the U.S. — including kids as young as 5 — are known to get kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation, which notes that there’s a 50% chance that kids who develop kidney stones will get another one within five to seven years.
Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys.
The stones often form when the urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. Mayo Clinic reported that passing them is painful but shouldn’t cause permanent damage if treated in time.
Experts also noted an increase in cases in children over the summer, with the National Kidney Foundation adding that hospitals across the country have opened “stone clinics” to treat the rise in cases.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease also cited that a family history of kidney stones will make a child more susceptible, as will excess sodium — often found in fast food — and too many sugary and caffeinated drinks.