My child wets the bed; how do I help him?

If your child wets the bed, it does not necessarily mean a health problem or a situation requiring a specialist’s consultation. Still, if this lasts for more than three months and the doctor rules out a urinary tract infection or other health problem, it will be necessary that you consult a specialist in childhood enuresis.

According to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), between 95 and 98 percent of well-diagnosed and treated enuretic children cases are successfully resolved. This control can be achieved between three to six months following a comprehensive therapy in which the pediatrician, urologist, psychologist, and child psychiatrist participate.

Starting at age five, a boy or girl should have sphincter control when sleeping. However, if he continues to have frequent accidents, “It is very likely that he has nocturnal enuresis (involuntary urination that occurs at night) while sleeping, after the age when a child should be able to control his bladder”, according to the pediatrician Reynaldo Ramírez Castillo.

Figures from the Ministry of Health in Mexico indicate that nocturnal enuresis occurs between 10 and 13 percent of the six-year-old child population and between 6 and 8 percent in children under ten years of age.

The institution highlights that this can be classified into:

  • It occurs when the body produces more urine than the bladder can hold; the child does not wake up because the brain does not respond to the signal that the bladder is full.
  • These are children who did not wet the bed for six months and, after this time, began to do so. This bedwetting could have physical or emotional causes.

For its part, the American Academy of Pediatrics mentions that they can still wet the bed:

  • 20 percent of five-year-old kids.
  • 10 percent of seven-year-old children.
  • 5 percent of 10-year-olds.

You can read: How do you put to sleep a newborn?

A range of causes

Dr. Ramírez Castillo, a pediatrician certified by the Mexican Council for Pediatric Certification, explains that various reasons may be causing a girl or boy to suffer from nocturnal enuresis, for example:

  • A small bladder that may not be developed enough to hold the urine produced at night.
  • Inability to recognize when the bladder is complete because the nerves that control the bladder are slow to mature.
  • Hormonal imbalance. Some children do not produce enough antidiuretic hormone during childhood, which slows down urine production at night.
  • Urinary tract infection. This infection can make it difficult for your child to control urine.
  • For a child who usually does not urinate at night, bed-wetting may be the first symptom of diabetes.
  • Chronic constipation. The same muscles are used to control urine as to defecate. When constipation occurs over long periods, these muscles may become dysfunctional and contribute to bedwetting at night.

What should I do if my child wets the bed?

Pediatrician Ramírez Castillo from the Cemain Hospital in Tampico explains that most children stop wetting the bed independently. Yet, he clarifies that little ones will need a little help because, as seen above, there are cases in which the nocturnal enuresis may be a sign of a disorder that has not been diagnosed and may require medical attention.

It is essential to consult with the pediatrician if the little one returns to wetting the bed after not doing it for months. “Or, if enuresis is accompanied by pain when urinating, unusual thirst, pink or red urine, hard stools or snoring”, the expert recommends.

Do not scold or shame your son or daughter for wetting the bed; remember that it may be something that he cannot control. Work with your doctor to find the cause and solutions, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version

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