Climate-induced extreme heat is causing more cases of kidney stones

Diagnoses of kidney stones have increased in the last 20 years, particularly among women and adolescents

Samuel Webb
Thursday 01 September 2022 18:20 BST
Flex alert issued as heat wave scorches California

Hotter temperatures linked to the climate crisis will elevate the risk of people developing kidney stones in the coming decades, doctors have warned.

Kidney stone disease is a painful condition caused by hard deposits of minerals that develop in concentrated urine and cause pain when passed through the urinary tract.

More frequent and intense heatwaves will likely increase the burden of kidney stone disease on healthcare systems, according to new research from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

The findings, based on data gathered in South Carolina, were published on Thursday in the academic journal, Scientific Reports.

Diagnoses of kidney stones have increased in the last 20 years, particularly among women and adolescents.

Previous research has discovered that higher air temperatures increase the risk of developing kidney stones. In the US, there is a sharp uptick in patients presenting with the condition following hot days.

“With climate change, we don’t often talk about the impact on human health, particularly when it comes to children, but a warming planet will have significant effects on human health,” said Dr Gregory E. Tasian, an attending paediatric urologist and the study’s lead author.

“As paediatric researchers, we have a duty to explore the burden of climate change on human health, as the children of today will be living this reality in the future.”

He added: ““While it is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow or hasten greenhouse gas emission and anthropogenic climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be, our analysis suggests that a warming planet will likely cause an increased burden of kidney stone disease on healthcare systems.”

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