April 23, 2012 9:10 am

Canadian research sheds light on bedwetting and how parents can help their kids


TORONTO – A new Canadian report sheds light on what causes bedwetting and how parents can help their kids from options, such as bed alarms and even medicine.

About 15 per cent of five-year-old children and up to eight per cent of eight-year-old kids are bedwetters, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.

The condition is also more common in boys than girls – American research suggests 6.21 per cent of boys are affected compared to only 2.5 per cent of girls.

Now, Canadian researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton say three conditions typically contribute to bedwetting: excessive urine production at night, an overactive bladder and an inability to wake up in response.

Dr. Darcie Kiddoo, a pediatric surgeon who led the research, says doctors also need to check their patients to rule out any other causes.

Her study also points to British findings that suggest that kids have a “significantly higher” likelihood of bedwetting if a parent was a bedwetter.

She says several options are available to parents who need to help their kids.

“The most critical aspect of treatment is reassurance for the child, who may experience low self-esteem,” Kiddoo said in a statement.

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“Parents understand that, unlike daytime behaviour . . . (nighttime bedwetting) is not within the child’s control.”

Bed alarms are the most popular resource. The small alarms are lightweight, portable, run on miniature batteries and are worn by kids when they get ready for bed.

The alarm goes off if kids start bedwetting and is supposed to teach kids to wake up to the sensation of a full bladder.

“The success of the alarm depends on the child being motivated, and on the willingness of both the child and the parents to be awakened,” the CPS says in a position statement.

Kiddoo says that after about 10 to 20 weeks, 66 per cent of kids maintained 14 consecutive days of dry nights while using the alarm.

Other treatment include medication, such as Desmopressin, which helps the kidneys reabsorb urine. Antidepressants are also used on some kids, but Kiddoo notes that there are “adverse effects” so few parents should choose this option.

The CPS also lists strategies for parents hoping their kids will outgrow bedwetting. They include:

• Clarify the goal of getting up at night and using the toilet.
• Assure the child’s access to the toilet.
• Avoid caffeine-containing foods and excessive fluids before bedtime.
• Have the child head to the washroom at bedtime.
• Take the child out of diapers.
• Include the child in morning cleanup in a non-punishing manner.
• Preserve the child’s self-esteem.

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