Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, refers to the unintentional passage of urine during sleep. Enuresis is the medical term for wetting, whether in the clothing during the day or in bed at night. Another name for enuresis is urinary incontinence.
For infants and young children, urination is involuntary. Wetting is normal for them. Most children achieve some degree of bladder control by 4 years of age. Daytime control is usually achieved first while nighttime control comes later.
The age at which bladder control is expected varies considerably.
- Some parents expect dryness at a very early age, while others not until much later. Such a time line may reflect the culture and attitudes of the parents and caregivers.
- 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.
Bedwetting is a very common problem.
- Parents must realize that enuresis is involuntary. The child who wets the bed needs parental support and reassurance.
- About 5-7 million children in the United States wet the bed. Most children simply outgrow bedwetting with a rate of resolution of the issue of about 15% per year.
- The prevalence of childhood primary enuresis (see below for definition) is:
- 5 years old 16%
- 6 years old 13%
- 7 years old 10%
- 8 years old 7%
- 10 years old 5%
- 12-14 years old 2%-3%
- over 15 years old 1%-2%
Bedwetting is a treatable condition.
- While children with this embarrassing problem and their parents once had few choices except waiting to "grow out of it," there are now treatments that work for many children.
- Several devices, treatments, and techniques have been developed to help these children stay dry at night.
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