Most children have achieved night time bladder control by the time they are five years old. In fact, a child is generally not considered to suffer from primary nocturnal enuresis unless he or she is still wetting the bed at least twice a week after this age.
Primary nocturnal enuresis is usually the result of a neurological delay in the development of the bladder reflex whereby the signal to wake when the bladder is full is weak or inoperative and the bladder reflex system allows automatic, involuntary voiding when the bladder fills above a certain level.
In some cases bedwetters may also not produce enough ADH hormone to reduce night-time urine production so they can sleep through the night.
Your child has a 40% chance of becoming a bed wetter if one parent wet the bed when young and a 70% chance if both parents did. Recent studies have also identified genes associated with enuresis.
Occasional, bedwetting may still may occur after the age of five but, generally, this is nothing to be concerned about. However, if a child has been dry for at least 6 months and then starts to wet the bed on a regular basis (secondary nocturnal enuresis), this may need investigation. It always pays to check with your physician that your child hasn’t developed a bladder infection or some other urological condition.
Also, children who suffer from Encopresis (involuntary soiling) often also suffer from bedwetting. This is because encopresis is often the result of constipation whereby the bowel enlarges and presses on the bladder giving the feeling of the need to go to the toilet and reducing the bladder storage capacity.
Secondary nocturnal enuresis can also be the result of emotional stress in a child, e.g. bullying, moving house, the death of a relative or the birth of a new child, or a parental separation. In this case providing appropriate support for your child to help them develop resilience and overcome their fears is really worthwhile.
Most children who suffer from nocturnal enuresis will eventually grow out of it as their bladder reflex mechanism matures. Research shows that around 15% of bedwetters outgrow bedwetting each year. By the age of 15 only around 1-2% of teenagers still wet the bed. However, bedwetting at any age can lead to self-esteem issues, disrupt family routines and increase the amount of housework required to keep your child dry and clean.
For these reasons, a treatment regime with a bedwetting alarm, which is safe and has minimal side effects, is highly recommended. When your child is ready and wants to cure his or her bedwetting discuss this option with him or her.