Research highlights risk factors associated with bedwetting

Researchers working on the University of Bristol’s ‘Children of the 90s’ project have found several factors that identify whether children who wet the bed are at risk of their bedwetting continuing into late childhood.

Persistent bedwetting is defined as wetting the bed up to the age of nine. It has been linked to children suffering emotional problems and distress.

The lead researcher, Dr Carol Joinson, found that:

  1. a child was much more likely to wet the bed if their parents had also wet the bed when they were young. This complements previous research showing that children are 40% more likely to wet the bed if one of their parents did, and 70% more likely if both their parents did;
  2. boys were three times more likely that girls to still wet the bed by the time they went to school.
  3. children with delayed development at 18 months were more likely to wet the bed up to the age of nine.
  4. children whose parents rated them as having a difficult temperament (e.g. finding it hard to adjust to changes in routines) and behaviour problems (e.g. fighting with other children) when they were 2-3 years were more likely to be bedwetting at 4-9 years.

Speaking about the results of the research, Dr Joinson said: “Some parents do not consider seeking treatment for bedwetting until it has started to have a knock-on effect on their child’s quality of life and many may be unaware that there are effective treatments available.

In the UK, doctors will assess bedwetting in children aged 5 and over. Parents should be encouraged to seek treatment for their children if they are still wetting the bed frequently (at least twice a week) when they are five years old or older because treating the condition now could help to reduce the risk of it becoming persistent and lower the risk of it affecting the child’s wellbeing.”

More information about bedwetting

If you want to find out more about bedwetting and how it can be tackled, download ERIC’s Guide to Night Time Wetting. This leaflet is an excellent starting point for children, young people and families wanting to understand how the bladder works, why bedwetting happens, and what treatment is available.

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