Researchers found that there is a high kidney stone risk among children due to overprescription of antibiotics

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, by pediatric researchers has found an unusual phenomenon among children and adults who are treated with oral antibiotics. The study found that people who are recently being treated with antibiotics have a significantly higher risk of developing kidney stones.

Researchers are alarmed because antibiotics being linked to kidney stones at such a high rate were a first for modern medicine. It further shocked the researchers when the strongest risks appeared at younger ages.

Kidney stones or Nephrolithiasis are hard, crystalline mineral materials formed within the kidney or urinary tract. Having kidney stones can take a toll on the host’s body. It is a dreaded fact that there are a lot of children experiencing the struggle of having kidney stones, like flank pain and blood in their urine.

According to study leader Gregory E. Tasian, MD, MSCE, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the overall prevalence of kidney stones has risen by 70 percent over the past 30 years, with particularly sharp increases among adolescents and young women. He also mentioned that kidney stones were previously rare in children.

Tasian’s study co-author Michelle Denburg, MD, MSCE, a pediatric nephrologist at CHOP, said that the researchers had not found the exact reasons why there is a drastic increase, but their findings suggest that oral antibiotics play a role, especially given that children are prescribed antibiotics at higher rates than adults.

Although there are well over 100 antibiotics, the majority come from only a few types of drugs. Tasian and his team found the five antibiotic classes that are newly linked to kidney stone risk. Tasian said that although they did not know which specific classes of antibiotics would be associated with an increased risk of stones and which ones would not, they were sure of the five antibiotic classes that were prevalent in causing kidney stones, namely sulfas (Bactrim, Gantanol), cephalosporins (Keflex); fluoroquinolones (Cipro); nitrofurantoin/methenamine (Macrobid, Hiprex); and broad-spectrum penicillins.
Tasian said that antibiotics have saved millions of lives and are needed to prevent death and serious harm from infections. The benefits outweigh the potential harms. The results of the study don’t suggest that antibiotics should not be prescribed when indicated.

Dr. Maria DeVita, Training Program Director for Nephrology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, supported Tasian’s notion of antibiotics prescribed in just the right amount. She said that Tasian’s study is another reminder that physicians have to be mindful of potential adverse effects of antibiotics and need to promote appropriate antibiotic stewardship. This is especially true since many antibiotics may be unwarranted.