Enuresis (Bedwetting) and ADHD

Eileen Bailey

ADHD does not cause enuresis (bedwetting) and it is not listed as a symptom of ADHD. However, there seems to be a higher incidence rate in children with ADHD of bedwetting. According to an article published in the Southern Medical Journal in 1997, children with ADHD had a 2.7 times higher incidence of enuresis and a 4.5 times higher incidence of daytime enuresis.

Enuresis can be devastating to children. It may interfere with sleep-overs and cause them to feel left out. Their self-esteem may suffer. For most children, bedwetting ends before the age of five, although somewhere between 5 percent and 20 percent of children still have incidences of bedwetting at this age.  Boys have a higher rate of bedwetting than girls.

For most children, the exact cause of enuresis is never known, however, there are some general ideas of why this occurs:

  • Enuresis is sometimes hereditary
  • There may be a delayed maturation of the neurological system
  • Small bladders or increased production of urine during the night
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sleep disorders: children may have a hard time rousing once in a deep sleep or may not feel that their bladder is full once in a deep sleep
  • Emotional trauma or high stress situations
  • Physical problems that may cause enuresis include diabetes or congenital deformities of the urinary tract

Normally, as the child grows older, bedwetting decreases but for some children it can continue into the teen years. It is reported that one percent of teens will still have problems with bedwetting.  For these teens, enuresis causes embarrassment and humiliation. 

Parents may try a variety of methods to control bedwetting. They may wake their child every few hours during the night to take them to the bathroom; only to have them wet the bed in between bathroom trips. This causes the entire family to go without a proper nights sleep. Lack of sleep can cause distraction and inability to focus to become even more pronounced.  Other parents may try punishment or make the child feel ashamed of their behavior. Although done with good intentions, bringing attention to this problem can cause undue embarrassment and emotional turmoil.

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