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Causes of Bedwetting

December 14, 2009 2 min read

AS writes, "Is there a certain type of child that seems to have more bedwetting than others? Two of my kids are affected, but they are as different as night and day. My 10 year old daughter is very neat and clean, does well in school, but is a little overweight and not very athletic. My 8 year old son is messy, does ok in school and is very outgoing and athletic. Bedwetting affects them both, as it did for both their father and my sister.

Although bedwetting is very common in children, the cause seems to be multi-factorial and not well understood. We do know that bedwetting runs in families and the actual genetic marker has been determined. With both sides of your family affected, more than 70% of offspring are affected. We don't know exactly what that genetic trigger is, however.

For example, do these kids sleep differently, do their bladders contain less, do they pay less attention, etc? Research has been done to look at risk factors for children with bedwetting. I'd like to share with you some research that was just published online in The Journal of Urology online, Dec 2009. The research was done in Australia using a questionnaire for the parents of 2,856 children. The questionnaire asked about the prevalence of bedwetting among many other general questions about their children. The average age was 7 years and the prevalence of bedwetting was 18%. Bedwetting was defined as any wetting in the previous month, with mild-1-6 nights, moderate-more than 7, severe-every night.

This research did confirm some modifiable risk factors that have been identified in the past years. Encopresis (leaking stool) and daytime wetting were associated with 23% of the kids with bedwetting. I think it is important to note that these two issues should be solved before bedwetting is addressed. In some situations, bedwetting will cease with the cure of the other problems. Males were also more likely to have severe enuresis, when adjusted for age. Emotional stressors and social concerns were only associated with the moderate bedwetting, not the nightly wetting. This is good news for parents who worry that there is a psychological reason or bad parenting as the cause for their children's wetting.

AS, if either of your children have encopresis, constipation or daytime wetting, this should be brought to your pediatrician's attention immediately. As for the other temperamental characteristics that you mentioned, it doesn't seem that there is a pre-disposition for one type to be more affected than others. I do see all shapes, sizes and personalities of kids in my bedwetting practice but most are just great kids. There is a little higher correlation of ADHD in children with bedwetting, but they can still achieve dryness. From your description, it sounds like both of your children would benefit from treatment using a bedwetting alarm.

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