1 in 7 children over the age of five wets the bed. They aren’t lazy, stressed or able to do anything about it. Most parents are desperate to understand why their child wets, and more to the point to cure them; well there is a cure and its been proven by medical research to be nine times more effective than drugs.
98% of bedwetting has a genetic cause.
Just as a child can inherit brown eyes, so he or she can inherit the gene that causes childhood bedwetting. Similarly, just as a child cannot change the colour of their eyes, they cannot change their tendency to wet the bed.
The most effective method of curing bedwetting is bedwetting alarm (enuresis alarm).
Enuresis alarms have been around for over 50 years and medical research has repeatedly shown that they work. Success rates have risen to 90% (1, 2), with average treatment time being just 8 weeks. Of the 90% of children cured, around 20% relapse in the first month or two, however with another short cause of treatment the vast majority of children return to permanent dry nights.
The alternative treatment to an enuresis alarm is the drug Desmopressin. This is a synthetic hormone used to treat bedwetting as it helps reduce the amount of urine produced when a child is asleep. However, Dr Wille (3) reported that most children returned to wetting after they stop using it; and Dr Houts and colleagues (4) found a success rate of just 21% when the relapse was taken into consideration.
The University of York Review, Lister-Sharp et al (1997) reported that an enuresis alarm is nine times more effective in preventing a relapse than Desmopressin.
Most NHS enuresis clinics will offer a referred child an alarm at the age of seven or eight, alternatively they are available online. All alarms work on the same principle and are suitable for children aged six years or over who have always wet the bed. It is always wise to see your GP if you are worried about your child’s wetting or if your child has returned to wetting after being dry for several months.
How bedwetting alarms work
During the night, a full bladder should trigger waking; in some children this fails to happen. Therefore, we use a sensor in the child’s underwear, connected to an alarm, to wake the child the instance urination starts. Usually, the child fails to wake to the alarm for the first 3-8 nights and the parent, who will wake, has to wake the child. However, the brain soon realises that the bleeping sound means ‘wake up!’
Soon after this the brain notices another link, the alarm is sounding on urination. Once this happens, the child begins to wake just before urination starts, to the feeling of a full bladder alone – ‘beating the alarm’.
The child wears the alarm until fourteen consecutive dry nights are achieved without alarm activation.
The first dry nights are usually achieved within 2-4 weeks, followed by permanent dry nights within 2 weeks to 5 months.
For comprehensive advice on Bedwetting Alarms see www.bedalarms.co.uk, where you can also buy bedalarms priced at £32.
Written by Helen Peet
(Scientific research: 1. Ibid P 26. 2. Baller, W.R. Bed-Wetting: Origins and Treatment, 1975, Pergamon, New York. 3. Wille, S. Comparison of desmopressin and enuresis alarm for enuresis. Archives of Diseases of Childhood, 1989; 61: 715-726. 17. Houts, Arthur C., Berman, Jeffrey S., and Abramson, Hillel. Effectiveness of Psychological and Pharmacological Treatments for Nocturnal Enuresis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1994; 62: 737-745.)