Symptoms & Causes of Kidney Stones in Children

What are the symptoms of kidney stones in children?

Symptoms of kidney stones in children include

  • sharp pains in the back, side, lower abdomen, or groin
  • pink, red, or brown blood in the urine, also called hematuria
  • a constant need to urinate
  • pain while urinating
  • inability to urinate or can urinate only a small amount
  • cloudy or bad-smelling urine
  • irritability, especially in young children

A child should see a health care professional right away when any of these symptoms occur. These symptoms can be caused by a kidney stone or a more serious condition.

The pain of a kidney stone may last for a short or long time or may come and go in waves. Along with pain, a child may have

  • nausea
  • vomiting

Other symptoms include

  • fever
  • chills
Teen girl talks to doctor and holds a hand to her lower back.
Pain in the back, side, lower abdomen, or groin can signal a kidney stone in a teenager or child.

What causes kidney stones in children?

Most kidney stones are caused by high levels of calcium, oxalate, or phosphorus in the urine. These minerals are normally found in urine and do not cause problems at normal levels.

Certain foods and beverages may increase the chances of having a kidney stone in children who are more likely to develop them.

When children can’t move for a long time, for example when a child is in a cast after surgery, the chances of developing a kidney stone are higher. When children aren’t moving, their bones may release extra calcium into the blood.

Last Reviewed May 2017
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Michael J.G. Somers, MD; Harvard Medical School; Michelle A. Baum, MD, Harvard Medical School; Jeffrey M. Saland, MD, MSCR, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai