What is Enuresis?
According to WebMD, “[n]octurnal enuresis, or bed-wetting…is the most common type of elimination disorder. Daytime wetting is called diurnal enuresis. Some children experience either or a combination of both.”
The Canadian Pediatric Society defined primary nocturnal enuresis or bed-wetting as “the involuntary discharge of urine at night by children old enough to be expected to have bladder control….”
The CPS said further that parents should view involuntary bedwetting as a variation in the development of normal bladder control. A child is considered to have secondary enuresis if he/she has experienced a minimum six-month period of continence before the onset of the bedwetting. (4)
The International Children’s Continence Society uses the term enuresis only when it applies to nighttime wetting in children over 5 years of age, and only if a child experiences more than two wetting episodes per week. (1, 2, 5)
Factors that may contribute to enuresis include :
• A small bladder
• Persistent urinary tract infections
• Severe stress or anxiety
• Developmental delays that interfere with toilet training
• Heavy sleep habits
How Common is Nocturnal Enuresis?
Dr. C. Carolyn Thiedke of the Medical University of South Carolina said that nocturnal enuresis affects an estimated 5-7 million children in the United States and occurs three times more often in boys than in girls.
She said, “At five years of age, 15 to 25 percent of children wet the bed. With each year of maturity, the percentage of bed-wetters declines by 15 percent. Hence, 8 percent of 12-year-old boys and 4 percent of 12-year-old girls are enuretic; only 1 to 3 percent of adolescents are still wetting their bed.”
Enuresis can have a significant effect on a child’s self-esteem. She may be punished or chewed out by her parents. She may be afraid to talk about it with her friends for fear of being ridiculed, or simply think poorly of herself for doing something so “baby-like”.