Bed-wetting – new advice for old problem

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 2nd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Bed-wetting an age-old problem that can be embarrassing for children and parents alike. Five to seven million children in the United States wet the bed. If your child has outgrown it, you’ve probably forgotten about bed-wetting. But if your child still wets the bed, you’re probably frustrated.

Bed-wetting also called incontinence or nocturnal enuresis [en-yur-EE-sis] occurs in both boys and girls, though some studies show it’s more common in boys. About forty percent of three-year-olds and fifteen to twenty percent of five-year-olds wet the bed frequently.

Most children outgrow the problem by age seven. But what about those who still have accidents at age seven or older? Several interventions including behavior modification, bed alarms and medications may help these children stay dry at night.

Many parents try behavior modification first because it’s easy, has no side effects and doesn’t require a doctor’s visit. They may take their child to the toilet late at night or reward the child in the morning after a dry night. But there’s no research evidence that these techniques work.

Bed alarms are effective, but in a round-about way. They don’t train children to wake up if they start to leak urine. Instead, the alarms often wake parents first, and then the parents wake their children.

Drugs including the hormone desmopressin [des-mo-PRES-in] and antidepressant tricyclics help control bed-wetting, but once the drugs are stopped there’s no continued benefit.

The best advice for parents? Ask the child’s physician, especially for children age seven and older.