Kidney Stones in Children | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Symptoms may vary from none, in the case of “silent stones,” (stones that are still in the kidney and have not moved to the ureter) to severe pain due to urinary obstruction. Common symptoms of kidney stone disease include:

  • pain in the abdomen, flank (side), back, or groin
  • blood in the urine
  • frequent urination
  • nausea and/or vomiting

Keep in mind that kidney stones affect different children in different ways. Young children in particular may present with vague symptoms that can make diagnosis challenging.

Any child with pain accompanied by blood in the urine—even if it’s just a little bit—should be evaluated by a doctor.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when there is too much of the mineral ingredients of the stone and not enough water in the urine.

This can occur either because there is an abnormally high mineral content in the urine, or the urine is too concentrated because of dehydration.

Some rare stone diseases can result from inborn metabolic problems, which means that the child has a genetic condition that causes his body to make these stones. A family history of kidney stones predisposes other members of the family to have stones, although how these tendencies are passed from one generation to the next is not well understood.

Children who can’t move for long periods of time (in traction after surgery, for example) may also be susceptible to stones, because when bones are inactive, they’re unable to regenerate themselves properly, which results in calcium being flushed into the system.