Bedwetting in Children
Bedwetting can be treated
Most children who wet the bed will eventually outgrow the condition, but for some this condition might persist into adulthood.1
Most children have developed control of their bladder by the age of 5 years.2 However, boys do tend to develop proper bladder control and maintain dryness at night later than girls.2
Bedwetting at ages 6 – 7 years becomes problematic because the child is in school and
may experience social problems.2,3
How common is bedwetting?
Around 19 % of school-aged children wet the bed
– it is one of the most common of all childhood problems.1
What causes bedwetting?
Bedwetting can be caused by one or a combination of the following:4
Difficulty to rouse from sleep:4
When the child is asleep, the brain doesn’t get the message that the full bladder needs to be emptied.
Overactive or twitchy bladder:4
If the bladder is overactive, the bladder muscle becomes “twitchy” and can only hold small amounts of urine. A “twitchy” bladder may spontaneously contract during sleep, which can result in wetting.
Overproduction of urine during the night:4
If the child has low levels of vasopressin (a naturally occurring substance) at night, they may produce more urine than the bladder can hold.
Why treat bedwetting?
When a child is very young, bedwetting may not seem like a concern, but as they get older, persistent bedwetting can be a distressing experience for both the child and the family.4,5
By leaving it untreated, the child or teenager can suffer an increased risk of:1,4,5,6
- Low self esteem
- Strong feelings of shame and guilt
- Avoidance of social activities
- Underachieving at school
- A sense of difference from others
Clinical research has shown that bedwetting can have a significant negative impact on a child’s emotional and social development.6
Won’t they just grow out of it?
Each year about 14 % of children do grow out of wetting the bed. But bedwetting often doesn’t resolve by itself – for some children, the problem continues into adulthood. In fact, bedwetting occurs in 2 – 3 % of adults.1
How can I help my child or teenager?
- Reassure your child that this is a common problem and is not his/her fault7
- Encourage your child to go to the toilet frequently during the day, especially just
before bedtime and on awakening7
- Reduce the amount of fluid consumed in the evening7
- Encourage physical activity7
Effective treatment is available.
If your child is 6 years of age or older, still wets the bed and is unhappy and uncomfortable about it, you should contact your doctor for advice.2,7
- Caldwell P, et al. Management of childhood enuresis. Med Today 2008;9(8):16-24.
- van Dyk JC, et al. South African guidelines for the management of nocturnal enuresis. SAMJ 2003;93(5):338-340.
- Hjalmas K, et al. Nocturnal Enuresis: An International Evidence Based Management Strategy. The Journal
of Urology 2004;171:2545-2561.
- Butler RJ, et al. The Three Systems: a Conceptual Way of Understanding Nocturnal Enuresis. Scand J Urol Nephrol, 2000;34(4):270-277.
- Butler R, et al. Overcoming parental intolerance in childhood nocturnal enuresis: a survey of professional opinion. BJU Int 2002;89:295-297.
- Hägglöf B et al. Self-esteem Before and After Treatment in Children with Nocturnal Enuresis and Urinary Incontinence. Scand J Urol Nephrol 1996;79-82.
- Neveus T, et al. Evaluation of and Treatment for Monosymptomatic Enuresis: A Standardization Document From the International Children’s Continence Society. J of Urology 2010;183:441-447.
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