Nocturnal enuresis in children: what it is and most frequent causes

Sometimes parents worry because their children, despite having been through the diaper stage for a while, continue to wet their pajamas from time to time during the night. If this happens sporadically, don’t worry.


Instead, it could be actual bedwetting if these episodes happen at least 2 times a week for 3 consecutive months . It is a frequent disorder (more than a disease) that affects 10-15% of children at the age of 6 and which tends to resolve spontaneously most of the time (incidence only 1% in adults). In any case, before the age of 7, bedwetting should not worry .


The most frequent causes, according to researchers from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, are:


Inability to tell when the bladder is full.

Sometimes there may be a (non-pathological) delay in the maturation of the nerve center that controls urination. Because of this, the baby may not receive the signal that the bladder is full and wake up.

The bladder still too small.

A survey published in the Research and Report in Urology  reported that one of the causes of nocturnal enuresis in children could be linked precisely to early “spannolination”. In fact, if the diaper was removed very early, the child may still have a bladder too small to hold all the urine produced during the night.

Constipation .

Occasional or chronic, constipation could be the cause of nocturnal enuresis due to an essentially mechanical fact: the stools that stagnate in the last part of the intestine cause the colon to “swell” which presses on the bladder.

Hormonal impairment .

During childhood, according to specialists, some children do not produce a sufficient amount of the antidiuretic hormone ADH, which is used to slow the production of urine during the night hours.

Stress and psychological distress .

The beginning of school, the arrival of a little brother, the fact of sleeping away from home: any stressful event could lead to the appearance (or reappearance) of bedwetting in children .

Urinary tract infections .

The urinary tract infections , especially in children, are frequent. This could be the cause of bedwetting. Ask your child if they feel burning or pain when urinating and check for blood in their urine. In any case it is necessary to consult the doctor who will ask for a routine examination.

Sleep apnea .

Sometimes bedwetting appears in relation to apneas, or those moments during which the baby’s breathing stops for a few seconds during the night. Apneas can be caused by colds, swollen tonsils, sore throats but also by excessive tiredness during the day.

Diabetes .

If a child has never had problems with bedwetting, the sudden onset of this problem could be a symptom of the onset of diabetes.

Usually, when this situation occurs, it is also associated with sudden weight loss , an increase in nighttime thirst and a lack of appetite .


Stopping bedwetting is one of the first, little things your kids will reach in their childhood. MetLife has designed protection tools for you and your children so that you can live the stages of growth together, facing the ups and downs of life with serenity. A solution entirely dedicated to them, to protect their well-being today and tomorrow.


How to help children stop bedwetting

Pissing in bed can be very frustrating for the child and for this reason it is necessary for mom and dad to practice behaviors that help to overcome this phase without further stressing their child.


According to an American study, in fact, it is necessary to psychologically support the child by reminding him first of all that he does not do it on purpose . This study also suggests a real guide for parents with rules that help manage the phenomenon of nocturnal enuresis .


Here’s how to help kids stop bedwetting :


1) Resist the temptation to put the diaper back on;


2) Tell us that it is a common problem and that it has happened to you too;


3) Explain what the natural causes of this phenomenon can be;


4) Offer solutions, such as drinking less in the evening at dinner (especially if your child has a habit of consuming fruit juices or carbonated drinks);


5) Play down and study together with your child a system of rewards and rewards to positively remember the “dry” nights without ever punishing him for the “wet” ones;


6) Make sure you remind him every night to pee before going to bed;


7) If the child sleeps outside the home (at grandparents, friends, etc.) calm him down and provide him with a small “kit” to save any “accidents”: a spare pajamas, an extra panty and a waterproof crossbar for the bed will be able to lift him from the anxiety of making a bad impression.


8) Ask for his help to change the sheets and do the washing: it is not a punishment, but a way to make him participate in the things “to be done” when the bed gets wet;


9) Don’t wake him up during the night to take him to the bathroom: you could cause a very stressful sleep interruption for both you and him;


10) Never scold the child, even if you are tired of having to change the sheets every day. Being severe and mortifying him will not help him to overcome his weaknesses or embarrassment, instead increasing anxiety and stress which are – as mentioned – among the causes of nocturnal enuresis ;


Nocturnal enuresis in children and adults, when it is appropriate to seek advice

In children between 9 and 10 years of age, nocturnal enuresis occurs in 5% of cases, a percentage that drops to 3% when over 10 years of age and persists in 1% of adolescents.


In these cases, we speak of secondary enuresis (the primary is when the phenomenon is repeated since childhood): after having acquired bladder control for at least 6 months, the phenomenon of bedwetting suddenly reappears.


If you realize that the phenomenon is not transitory, that is it does not restrict itself to a particularly stressful period or of change, it is good to contact the pediatrician or the attending physician who will carry out diagnostic tests and evaluations to identify the triggering problem.

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