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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal;
  • acidosis;
  • carbohydrate intolerance;
  • diarrhoea;
  • lactose intolerance;
  • nephrolithiasis

Abstract

 Renal stones have been reported as a common finding in Australian Aboriginal children. The stones are predominantly urate in composition. We report on five children with nephrolithiasis from the Goldfields region of Western Australia. All were diagnosed when under 5 years of age, the majority being under 3 years. All five children also had lactose intolerance, and we postulate that carbohydrate malabsorption, together with the ensuing chronic diarrhoea and intraluminal breakdown of sugars by enteric bacteria may result in a situation of chronic metabolic acidosis. Chronic metabolic acidosis can lead to protein catabolism, increased urate excretion and the formation of renal stones. Carbohydrate intolerance may be an aetiological factor in the development of renal stones and possibly chronic renal disease, particularly in Aboriginal Australians. Renal disease represents one of the most significant factors affecting the health of Australian Aboriginal people. The incidence of end stage renal failure in this population exceeds that of non-Aboriginals by a factor of 13:1, and this disproportionate figure is increasing. It is likely that chronic renal damage is multifactorial; however, it is probable that at least some aetiological factors have their onset during childhood.