Urinary Incontinence in Children

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View Urinary Incontinence in Women Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideUrinary Incontinence Pictures Slideshow: Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go

Urinary Incontinence Pictures Slideshow: Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go

What are the different types of urinary incontinence in children?

It is easiest to divide childhood enuresis into two groups. Nocturnal enuresis occurs during sleep and diurnal (daytime) enuresis occurs during waking hours. Nocturnal enuresis is often referred to as bedwetting and is the most common type of urinary incontinence in children over 5 years of age. Diurnal enuresis is more often seen in younger children and more often a result of certain behaviors, though rarely it can be a sign of more serious problems. Another way to categorize incontinence is by the timing of the symptoms. If a child has good daytime bladder control but has never had a dry night, it is referred to as primary enuresis. Secondary enuresis is incontinence in an individual who has been dry for at least six months and then develops symptoms after that period.

How common is urinary incontinence in children?

Studies indicate that 20% of all 5-year-old children and 10% of 7-year-olds wet the bed, and of these, up to 20% also have some degree of daytime incontinence. In addition, nocturnal enuresis is more common in boys, and diurnal incontinence is more common in girls. Secondary enuresis accounts for about one-quarter of all cases and is most often associated with some psychological stressor or anxiety.

What causes nighttime incontinence in children?

Any number of normal and abnormal things can cause nocturnal enuresis in children. Boys are more commonly affected than girls. Most young children who suffer from bedwetting are physically and emotionally normal. Although the exact cause is unknown, the bedwetting is believed to be the result of a number of nonorganic factors, including developmental issues, overproduction of urine, and an inability to respond to the normal physiological signals associated with bladder distension while asleep. Since bedwetting does run in families, experts believe there is a genetic disposition as well and if a parent experienced nocturnal enuresis as a child, there is a 45% risk that their child will also suffer from bedwetting. In addition to nonorganic causes, there are also some less common organic causes including infection, anatomic abnormalities, neurologic abnormalities, and endocrine abnormalities such as diabetes mellitus.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Urinary Incontinence in Children - Nighttime

    Please discuss your child's symptoms of and experience with nighttime incontinence.

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Urinary Incontinence in Children - Daytime

    Does your child have daytime incontinence? Please share your family's experience.

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Urinary Incontinence in Children - Treatment

    What kinds of treatment, therapy, or medication did your child have for his/her urinary incontinence?

    Post
  • Urinary Incontinence in Children - Coping and Prognosis

    Did you or your child have urinary incontinence? Please share tips for coping or dealing with the problem.

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors