I’ve talked before about the fact that my son is still in night nappies at 6 years of age. So I’ve been doing a little research about bedwetting and not being dry at night.
Bedwetting is perhaps more common than you think. In the UK alone about half a million children (between 5 and 16) wet the bed. Children are less likely to wet the bed as they get older. At 4 and a half it is believed that 8% of children wet the bed, but by nine and a half only 1.5% do. Each year of age reduces the number of those with the problem and only 1% continue into adulthood. However, the more frequent the bedwetting, the less likely they are to become spontaneously dry.
I think it’s also well known that boys are more likely than girls to wet the bed, but this pattern decreases by teenage years when there is less difference between genders.
There are two types of bedwetting or nocturnal eneresis:
- Primary Enuresis – This is where a child has never been consistently dry at night. This is the most common type.
- Secondary Enuresis – This is where a child has previously been dry for six months or more and then starts wetting the bed.
In treatment terms both are assessed and treated in the same way.
Causes of Bedwetting
- Not waking to signals from the bladder. Some children don’t get a strong enough signal from their bladder to help rouse them from their sleep to go to the toilet. It does not seem to be connected to deepness of sleep.
- Lack of Vasopressin. Vasopressin is a hormone at that peaks at night and causes the kidneys to reduce the amount of urine that they produce. If there is not enough vasopressin then their kidneys will continue to produce daytime amounts of urine which will be too much to hold in the bladder. Vasopressin is more likely to be lacking if a child wets more than once a night or early in the night.
- Overactive Bladders. Children with an overactive bladder might have some problems during the day too, like damp pants.
- Constipation. This can make bedwetting worse or even cause it. It can cause difficulties during the day too as if the bowel is full, it can press against the bladder.
- Anxiety. Stress or change can cause bedwetting particularly for children who have previously been dry.
- Family History. Bedwetting can run in families. If one parent wet the bed as a child then there is a 45% likelihood that their child will inherit the problem. The figures rise if both parents had problems.
- UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). A UTI can give a child the feeling of always needing to go to the toilet and can cause problems at day and night.