Bed Wetting & Your Child

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • Bed-wetting or enuresis is an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem for children. It's considered normal up to and including the age of four. It's when it continues into school age and even adulthood that the embarrassment and discomfort escalates.


    Bed-wetting may occur every night, a few nights a week or even only occasionally. It usually occurs during the first few hours of sleep, but can occur any time during the night.


    Researchers at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky have discovered a possible cause of enuresis and snoring in children. The cause may be elevated levels of the heart hormone called brain natriuretic peptide (BNP).

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    Many children who snore also wet the bed. The researchers discovered that BNP was high in these children. More research will be needed to find out why this is true.


    Bed-wetting has many other causes, one of which may be psychological problems. Recently, however, thought on this has been reversed. With the socially embarrassing implications of enuresis, it's quite possible that the bed-wetting causes the psychological problems, not the other way around.


    What are some of the causes of bred wetting?

    • It may be hereditary. If one or both parents were, or are, bed-wetters, there's a very high chance the children will also develop the problem.

    • When bed-wetting continues beyond the fourth year of age, there's a possibility the child is slow to develop, and will gain control a couple of years later.
    • Constipation may cause pressure on the bladder that brings about a lack of bladder control.
    • A urinary tract infection can cause bed-wetting.
    •  Ask a doctor to check for any urinary tract abnormalities.
    • Diseases, including diabetes can cause bed-wetting.
    •  Sleep disorders, including sleep apnea or the fright caused by night terrors may bring on a loss of bladder control.
    • Recent research has shown a link between ADD/ADHD and bedwetting.
    • Finally, it's important to look at the stress in a child's life including bullying, family upheaval and abuse.



    According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 14 to 21% of preschoolers and 4 to 7% of school age children suffer varying degrees of enuresis. Other sources claimed 2% of adolescents and one in every 200 adults continued to suffer from bed-wetting.

    A recent Turkish poll suggested that 35% of women who suffer from incontinence were bed-wetters as children.



    The National Sleep Foundation offers this excellent list of possible treatment:

    • Establishing a regular bedtime routine that includes going to the bathroom
    • Waking your child during the night before he/she typically wets the bed and taking him/her to the bathroom
    • Developing a reward system to encourage your child, such as stickers for dry nights
    •  Talking to your child about the advantages of potty-training, such as not having to wear diapers and becoming a "big kid"
    • Limiting beverages in the evening - even those last minute water requests
    • Using a "bell-and-pad" which incorporates an alarm that goes off whenever your child's pajamas or bed become wet during an accident. These systems teach your child to eventually wake up before the bedwetting occurs
    • Sometimes a doctor will prescribe medication to help control the problem. Two possible choices are imipramine and desmopressin. Imipramine is an antidepressant and is used to relax the bladder and may even have the side effect of easing the effects of stress, if this is causing the problem. Desmopressin is a medication that copies the body chemical that controls urination during the night.



Published On: May 08, 2008