Bed Wetting

Bedwetting can be very troublesome for both parents and children. Parents may get annoyed by having to clean their child's bed sheets and pajamas yet again, while a child can get upset with herself for not only wetting the bed but also for causing her parents grief. However, there is no reason anyone should get wound up over a bedwetter since child bedwetting is so common.

What Is It?
Childhood bladder problems are often referred to by their medical name, enuresis. Nighttime wetting officially goes by the term nocturnal enuresis while daytime wetting is called diurnal enuresis. Although diurnal enuresis does occur fairly frequently in children, more often with girls than boys, it is not as common a problem as nocturnal enuresis.

Wetting the bed is extremely normal behavior for young children. In some cases it can even continue until the teenage years. It is estimated that in the United States, anywhere from five to seven million children are affected by bedwetting. Girls wetting the bed is not as common as boys who wet their beds, perhaps because girls are able to toilet train faster than boys.

If you're considering taking your child to his pediatrician because of his bed wetting, you might want to wait. Few doctors will actually diagnose bedwetters with a "disorder" until they are at least four-years-old for girls and five-years-old for boys. Why? Well, because in many cases, the problem clears up on its own within 12 months.

Bedwetting Causes
Contrary to popular belief, bed wetting is not caused by any mental or behavioral problems. Nor is it caused by drinking too many liquids just before going to bed. And while a 1996 survey of 9,000 parents showed that a whopping 22% believed laziness was the cause of bed wetting, this in fact has nothing to do with it as well.

Staying dry through the night is a skill that needs to be learned. It involves your body knowing when to wake you up so you can use the toilet and being able to control your bladder muscles. And let's face it, it's not easy to control your muscles when you're sleeping.

Children who wet the bed do so simply because they haven't yet developed the muscles necessary for holding their bladder in all night. Also, their nervous system may not be developed enough to wake them up when they need the toilet or to prevent the bladder from emptying during the night.

Other cause of bedwetting include:

  • Genetics. Yes, it can run in the family.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • A small bladder, which can make it difficult to hold urine for a long time.
  • Stress. If your normally dry child suddenly starts wetting the bed, there's a good chance it's stress related.
  • Hormones. Not having enough of the antiduretic hormone that lowers the amount of urine produced by the kidney can cause problems.
  • Any abnormalities in the spinal cord, urethral valve (boys) or ureter (boys and girls).