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What are Urate Crystals?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Urate crystals are sharp crystalline structures that build up as a result of too much uric acid in the body, a condition called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia is a hallmark of conditions like gout, where the kidneys may show an inability to adequately dispose of uric acid. This can lead to deposits or urate crystals in the joints, which can in turn cause severe joint pain and inflammation.

Another way in which many people first learn about urate crystals is when they are first time parents. Newborns and young infants may have wet diapers that appear either orange or pink-tinged. This can be a frightening thing for new parents, because it looks very much as though the child may be bleeding or have blood in his or her urine.

Actually, urate crystals, which may most often occur in the first few weeks of life, tend to be relatively common. They usually, especially if you only notice them once or twice, are nothing more than the infant passing highly concentrated urine. Urate crystals don’t hurt babies, and you may even find some crystals in a diaper, or what looks like powder.

However, this may be a sign that some babies, especially older ones, are dehydrated. If the baby isn’t having at least six wet diapers a day, this suggests fluid intake may be too low. When children are not getting adequate fluid they may “hold” their urine and produce darker urine with a higher level of uric acid. If you suspect a child is dehydrated, you should seek medical attention. Dehydration in a newborn or young child can be very serious if left untreated.

Many times, dehydration in newborns may be the result of not getting enough breastmilk or formula, or older babies may develop these crystals if they sleep through the night and aren’t woken up for a feeding. If crystals persist for more than a couple of diapers, and if the baby is not passing adequate urine, you should consider consulting a lactation consultant if you are breastfeeding, and discuss the issue with your child’s doctor.

In rare instances, urate crystals in a diaper may suggest some forms of chronic kidney dysfunction, especially if they persist. The standard rule, especially for new parents, is to check with the doctor. Bring along a diaper, which shows the crystals so that doctors can rule out any other forms of crystallization or have the diaper tested to see if they suspect other problems. In most cases though, urate crystals in newborns are a normal occurrence and even occur in newborns who get adequate fluid.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon270347 — On May 22, 2012

I am 69, male, mild blood pressure and I had uric acid and gout and a new detection of blood sugar also. A recent serum test shows no uric acid but my urine shows urate crystal. After urination I feel itching/mild pain and also a deposit of smegma under my foreskin.

By anon167332 — On Apr 12, 2011

Oh my god, take your babies to the doctor! If you can't afford to, go to the emergency room and apply for Medicaid. If you make too much to be on Medicaid, grow up, make some budget changes, and buy your kid health insurance. Your child could die or be permanently damaged if you're not careful!

By anon133610 — On Dec 11, 2010

Please help. I had a newborn two weeks ago. He has been producing these crystals every time we change a diaper from the day after he was born. Also, he has not had a bowel movement in almost four days. I need reasons. Please help.

By anon76666 — On Apr 11, 2010

My eight week old has had what looks to be urates four times, about a week apart. The latest this morning. I was told that it is normal - almost like she has had a little period -- and it should clear up at about three months. Is this correct or should i be getting a second opinion?

By anon67754 — On Feb 26, 2010

Can an eight and a half years old boy get this problem, as the article is referring only to babies.

By bigmetal — On Feb 26, 2008

wow! that's scary! i've never experienced this with my children, but i know that each and every parent (especially new ones) examine every diaper carefully. you don't understand this until you have kids of your own!

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a TheHealthBoard contributor, Tricia...
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