Study Finds Surprising Link Between Asthma and Kidney Stones in Children

Rates of both diseases have been rising in recent years

Study Finds Surprising Link Between Asthma and Kidney Stones in Children

Kidney stones are four times more likely to occur in children with asthma than in children who don’t have asthma, say a new study by Cleveland Clinic researchers.

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The study, published online last month in the medical journal PLOS ONE, also found that asthma is four times more likely to occur in children with kidney stones than in children without kidney stones.

This is the first study of its kind to find an association between asthma and kidney stone formation.

The rates of both diseases have been rising over the past 20 years, with asthma among the most common chronic childhood diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Strong link

The International Review Board-approved study was co-authored by Manoj Monga, MD, Director of the Stevan B. Streem Center for Endourology & Stone Disease, and Serpil Erzurum, MD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.

The research team used data extracted from Cleveland Clinic’s electronic medical records, and, using diagnosis codes, looked at pediatric asthma and kidney stone patients between the ages of 6 months and 18 years old.

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Researchers considered data about asthma diagnosis, medications, age, gender, race and body-mass index (BMI).

The asthma-kidney stone link was found to be so strong that even children with mild asthma had a much high risk of developing kidney stones, Dr. Erzurum says.

“Our findings were independent of a patient’s height, weight, gender, asthma severity or medication use,” Dr. Erzurum says. “The risk of kidney stones was purely related to having asthma.”

Upending traditional thinking

Until now, theories regarding how kidney stones develop have focused on the chemical makeup of a person’s urine, Dr. Monga says. The study results point to other possible factors, he says.

“Traditional thinking is that the formation of kidney stones results from abnormalities in the urine, and if you correct these through diet or medications, you decrease chances of developing stones,” Dr. Monga says. “However, our study showed that kidney stones formed in children independently of any differences in the urine. There’s something else going on.”

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Links between the two diseases, perhaps involving inflammation or dysfunction in the lining of the gut, will need further exploration, Dr. Monga says.

Prevention

Kidney stones are rare in children with asthma, occurring in only about 1 percent of these children. So screening for kidney stones is not recommended for youngsters with asthma.

However, knowing that your child faces increased risk for kidney stones can help parents and their health care providers take preventive steps, Dr. Monga says.