The sight of a soaked mattress which has just been hosed clean, again, out front of our house is not particularly unusual. It's not something you see in front of everyone's house, but I guarantee you it's a problem in many homes. Bed wetting is one of the big issues in many people's homes at least at some stages in their lives, but it is generally NOT talked about. There are probably many mattresses drying out back of people's homes, after all you don't want your neighbours talking!
Well I couldn't care less what the neighbour's thought, and if someone was brave enough to steal it then go right ahead I say. It's all an unfortunate part of growing up, one of those taboo topics that many parents don't want to discuss when their friends are bragging their children are dry in the night and 'never' have an accident. I recently looked up on the internet information about bed wetting and was surprised at what I discovered.
- the inability to waken to a full bladder
- the bladder becomes overactive at night and cannot store urine, or
- the kidneys make a large amount of urine at night and the bladder has difficulty holding this.
- being young for your age
- bad behaviour
- rebelliousness, or
- drinking after dinner.
Waking in the middle of the night to change your child's sheets after a bedwetting episode is practically a rite of passage for parents. And it's more common than you think.
"I call it the hidden problem of childhood," says Howard Bennett, MD, a pediatrician and author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting. "Unlike asthma or allergies, it's just not talked about outside the house."
Bedwetting: The Secret Problem
That secrecy about bedwetting makes the situation tougher for kids and parents alike. "Ninety percent of kids think they're the only ones who wet the bed, which makes them feel even worse," says Bennett.
Yet bed-wetting children are far from alone. Though children naturally gain bladder control at night, they do so at different ages. From 5 to 7 million kids wet the bed some or most nights -- with twice as many boys wetting their bed as girls. After age 5, about 15% of children continue to wet the bed, and by age 10, 95% of children are dry at night.
Wet beds leave bad feelings all around. Frustrated parents sometimes conclude a child is wetting the bed out of laziness. Kids worry there's something wrong with them -- especially when teasing siblings chime in. Fear of wetting the bed at a friend's sleepover can create social awkwardness.
For some, bedwetting may be an inevitable part of growing up, but it doesn't have to be traumatic. Understanding bed-wetting's causes is the first step to dealing with this common childhood problem.
Continue reading below...
The Bedwetting Gene
There's no one single cause of bed-wetting, but if you want an easy target, look no farther than your own DNA.
"The majority of bedwetting is inherited," says Bennett. "For three out of four kids, either a parent or a first-degree relative also wet the bed in childhood."
Scientists have even located some of the specific genes that lead to delayed nighttime bladder control. (For the record, they're on chromosome 13, 12, and 8.)
"Most parents who had the same problem communicate it to their kids, which is good," suggests Bennett. "It helps a kid understand, I'm not alone, it's not my fault."
The Usual Bedwetting Suspects
Yet genetics only tells part of the story. Researchers have identified a number of factors that likely contribute to bedwetting. "All of these are debated, but each probably plays a role in some children," says Bennett, including:
- Delayed bladder maturation. "Simply put, the brain and bladder gradually learn to communicate with each other during sleep, and this takes longer to happen in some kids," Bennett tells WebMD.
- Low anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone tells the kidneys to make less urine. Studies show that some kids who wet the bed release less of this hormone while asleep. More urine can mean more bedwetting.
- Deep sleepers. "Families have been telling us for years that their children who wet the bed sleep more deeply than their kids that don't," says Bennett. Research confirms the link. "Some of these children sleep so deeply, their brain doesn't get the signal that their bladder is full."
- Smaller "functional" bladder. Although a child's true bladder size may be normal, "during sleep, it sends the signal earlier that it's full," says Bennett.
- Constipation. Full bowels press on the bladder, and can cause uncontrolled bladder contractions, during waking or sleep. "This is the one that's hiding in the background," says Bennett. "Once kids are toilet trained, parents often don't know how often a child is going ... [they're] out of the 'poop loop.''