Incontinence In Children – Should I Be Worried About My Child?
Wetting the bed (or nocturnal enuresis) and daytime wetting are common and normal in young children but can cause significant distress for families when continence in not achieved at the expected time.
Paediatric Nephrologist Dr Tom Forbes answers some common questions:
When is it too old to wet the bed?
Many parents expect their child to become dry during the day at around 3 years of age, and become dry overnight by school entry. However, achievement of continence milestones is highly variable in normal, healthy children.
Up to 15% of 7 year old children and 1% of teenagers experience regular night-time wetting.
It is common for prolonged bed wetting to run in families.
Isn’t it just laziness?
It’s a common misconception that children wet themselves because they can’t be bothered going to the toilet. Most commonly, the problem is that their bladder doesn’t give them enough notice (or in some cases any notice) to get to a toilet in time. Whilst repeated clean ups in a busy household can be frustrating, it is important not to let a child feel responsible or negative about their accident.
Children can develop significant self-consciousness and anxiety about this problem, which can make it more difficult to overcome it. You may wish to see a doctor if your child feels troubled or upset by their wetting.
How do I know if my child has a medical problem affecting their bladder or kidneys?
The vast majority of children who wet the bed have normal kidneys and a normal bladder and will become dry with time. Some children with daytime wetting, however, may have a small volume bladder, which cannot hold the large volumes of urine produced during the night and may also suddenly empty small volumes of urine frequently during the day. This is more likely if your child has been dry for some time and then starts wetting again. Constipation is another common cause of a reduced bladder volume. Assessing a child for these problems is usually straightforward.
Does my child need treatment for wetting?
There are a range of treatments for bedwetting/daytime wetting including bladder training activities, medications and bedwetting alarms. The most appropriate treatment depends on how old your child is, the pattern of their wetting and how motivated they are to become dry.
If you are concerned about your child’s wetting, speak to your GP, Maternal Child Health Nurse or Paediatrician. They may refer you to a Paediatric Nephrologist who specialises in the treatment of children with continence problems.