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Bedwetting in Children

Bedwetting is common in children. How to address the problem depends on what is causing it and how the situation is affecting your child at home and at school.

When is bedwetting a problem?

Most children have developed control of their bladder by the age of 5 years. However, boys do tend to develop proper bladder control and maintain dryness at night later than girls. Bedwetting at ages 6 – 7 years becomes problematic because the child is in school and may experience social problems.1,2

Will the problem resolve naturally?

  • 15% of children will stop bedwetting without treatment
  • If severe bedwetting is not treated, it can continue into adolescence and adulthood
  • Bedwetting occurs in 2 – 3 % of adults4,5





What causes bedwetting?

Life stressors have been linked to bedwetting; however, most children with this problem have no history of any major life events.3,4

The most common causes of bedwetting are due to one or more of the following:

  • Overproduction of urine at night (the most common problem)
  • Reduced capacity of the bladder to store urine at night or over-activity of the bladder
  • Inability to wake in response to full bladder sensation

How common is bedwetting?

Effects of bedwetting on a child

  • Low self-esteem
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of sleeping over at friends’ houses
  • Sleep disturbances4,5

What can I do to help my child?

  • Reassure your child that this is a common problem and is not his/her fault
  • Effective treatment is available. Contact your doctor for advice
  • Encourage your child to go to the toilet frequently during the day, especially just before bedtime and on awakening
  • Reduce the amount of fluid consumed in the evening
  • Encourage physical activity6

Medical References

1. van Dyk JC, et al. South African guidelines for the management of nocturnal enuresis. SAMJ 2003;93(5):338-340. 2. Hjalmas K, et al. Nocturnal Enuresis: An International Evidence Based Management Strategy. J of Urology 2004;171:2545-2561. 3. Kiddoo DA. Nocturnal enuresis. CMAJ 2012;184(8):908-911. 4. van Kerrebroeck P, Nørgaard JP. Desmopressin for the treatment of primary nocturnal enuresis. Pediatric Health 2009;3(4):311-327. 5. Vande Walle J, et al. Practical consensus guidelines for the management ofenuresis. Eur J Pediatr 2012:1-13. 6. 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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