Bedwetting – types, causes and impact

Hi all!

Y’day I wrote about Bedwetting, a common problem in children. As I discussed before, I came to know about all the related problems arising from ADD / ADHD including speech problem & hyperactivity in kids, as I was worried about my kid not speaking coherently even after completing 3 years.

As I said earlier, Bedwetting is primarily of 2 types, Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (PNE) and Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis (SNE).

Primary Nocturnal Enuresis (PNE): It occurs when a child has not yet stayed dry on a regular basis and is beyond the age at which bladder control would normally be anticipated.

Some medical definitions list primary nocturnal enuresis (PNE) as a clinical condition at between 4-5 years old. Bedwetting can be considered a “clinical problem” if the child is unable to keep the bed dry more than 2x / month after six years old for females and seven years old for males.

Secondary Nocturnal Enuresis (SNE): The condition is when a child or adult begins wetting again after having stayed dry. Secondary enuresis can be caused by emotional stress or a medical condition, such as a bladder infection.

Most-common causes of bedwetting are PNE-type, which has 2 related most-common causes:

  1. Neurological-developmental delay: This is the most common cause of bedwetting. Most bedwetting children are simply delayed in developing the ability to stay dry and have no other developmental issues.
  2. Genetics: Bedwetting has a strong genetic component. Children whose parents were not enuretic have only a 15% incidence of bedwetting. When one or both parents were bedwetters, the rates jump to 44% and 77% respectively

There is no test to prove that bedwetting is only a developmental delay and genetic testing offers little or no benefit to a bedwetting patient.





Other proven causes: Doctors examining a bedwetting patient will search for the following, less frequent, causes of nocturnal enuresis.

  1. Infection / disease
  2. Physical abnormalities
  3. Insufficient Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH) production
  4. Psychological issues in the family
  5. Chronic Constipation
  6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD are 2.7 times more likely to have bedwetting issues
  7. Caffeine intake
  8. Alcohol consumption
  9. More severe Neurological-Developmental Issues
  10. Sleep apnea


Impact of Bedwetting on children:

Psychological-social impact:

A review of medical literature shows doctors consistently stressing that a bedwetting child is not at fault for the situation.

Many medical studies state that the psychological impacts of bedwetting are more important than the physical considerations. “It is often the child’s and family member’s reaction to bedwetting that determines whether it is a problem or not.

Behavioral impact:

Studies show that bedwetting children are more likely to have behavioral problems. For children who have developmental problems, the behavioral problems and the bedwetting are frequently part of/caused by the developmental issues.

For bedwetting children without other developmental issues, these behavioral issues can result from self-esteem issues and stress caused by the wetting.

As mentioned previously, current studies show that it is very rare for a child to intentionally wet the bed as a method of acting out.

Punishment for bedwetting (effects and rates):

Medical literature states and studies show that punishing or shaming a child for bedwetting will frequently make the situation worse.

Doctors describe a downward cycle where a child punished for bedwetting feels shame and a loss of self-confidence. This can cause increased bedwetting incidents, leading to more punishment and shaming.

Read more on Bedwetting… here

Last 5 posts by Malini


  1. Khushi

    Thanks for providing more details on this issue.

  2. Khushi

    Thank you for posting more details on this important issue.

  3. sarmila

    this is a very important topic you have raised.. thanks

  4. indrani

    Thanks for writing such an informative post.

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