Bedwetting is normal and very common among preschoolers, affecting 40 percent of children at age three. However, it is much less frequent in school-age children, occurring in 20 percent of five-year-olds, 10 percent of six-year-olds, and 3 percent of twelve-year-olds.
Bedwetting: The secret problem
Secrecy about bedwetting makes the situation tougher for kids and parents alike. If your child feels bad about bedwetting, you should calm them down. They are not the only kid who wets their bed. In fact, ninety percent of kids think they’re the only ones who wet the bed.
Though children naturally gain bladder control at night as they grow up, they do so at different ages. Factors that affect the age at which wetting is considered a problem include the following:
- The child’s gender: Bedwetting is more common in boys.
- The child’s development and maturity
- The child’s overall physical and emotional health. Chronic illness and/or emotional and physical abuse may predispose to bedwetting.
What causes bedwetting?
The cause is likely due to one or a combination of the following:
- Your child’s bladder cannot hold their urine overnight. Although a child’s true bladder size may be normal, during sleep, it sends the signal earlier that it’s full. It also possible that your child produces a large amount of urine during the evening and night hours. This might have to do with anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) – a hormone that regulates urine production.
- Your child is a deep sleeper. Research confirms the link between sleeping deeply and bedwetting. Some of these children sleep so deeply, their brain doesn’t get the signal that their bladder is full.
- Your child has poor daytime toilet habits. Many children habitually ignore the urge to urinate and put off urinating as long as they possibly can. Parents usually are familiar with the leg crossing, face straining, squirming, squatting, and groin holding that children use to hold back urine.
- You child eat too much before bed time, or is constipated. Full bowels press on the bladder and can cause uncontrolled bladder contractions, during waking or sleep.
Can bedwetting be a sign of underlying condition?
Bedwetting can be a sign of an underlying medical or emotional problem. A child with bedwetting is much more likely to have other symptoms, such as daytime wetting. Bedwetting can signal some medical conditions such as:
- Urinary tract infection: The resulting bladder irritation can cause pain or irritation with urination, a stronger urge to urinate (urgency), and frequent urination (frequency). Urinary tract infections in children may indicate another problem, such as an anatomical abnormality.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have a high level of sugar in their blood. The body increases urine output to try to get rid of the sugar. Having to urinate frequently is a common symptom of diabetes.
- Structural or anatomical abnormality: An abnormality in the organs, muscles, or nerves involved in urination can cause incontinence or other urinary problems that could show up as bedwetting.
- Neurological problems: Abnormalities in the nervous system, or injury or disease of the nervous system, can upset the delicate neurological balance that controls urination.
- Emotional problems: A stressful home life, as in a home where the parents are in conflict, sometimes causes children to wet the bed. Major changes, such as starting school, a new baby, or moving to a new home, are other stresses that can also cause bedwetting. Children who are being physically or sexually abused sometimes begin bedwetting.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.