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If your child wets the bed at night, it may help to know that you’re not alone.  Millions of parents face the problem of how to handle bedwetting.

Bedwetting is considered a normal part of childhood development up to a certain age.  In other words, most kids eventually outgrow it and quit wetting the bed.  The question is how do you determine if your child has a problem?    
First it’s good to know that bedwetting is usually not a sign of any medical problem or deep emotional issue.  According to Stanford University Medical Center pediatric urologist Dr. William A. Kennedy II, there is no one age at which all children are expected to gain full bladder control.  Kennedy says, “The accepted time to start thinking about some special strategies is when the child is around 6 and/or both the child and parents are concerned about the problem.”  Dr. Kennedy also advises parents that it’s OK to wait until age 7 or 8 if the child is not ready to participate in the treatment.  Boys, because of their “plumbing,” tend to gain bladder control a bit later than girls, he says.

Kennedy suggests that parents of a child who wets the bed should discuss it with their pediatrician or family physician who can help determine if the problem is simple bedwetting or a more complex medical problem.  If it is determined that the problem is simple bedwetting, parents face three alternatives:

1. The first alternative is to wait. Kennedy notes that bedwetting almost always stops eventually. Approximately 20-percent of five year old children wet their beds.  By age ten, approximately five percent of children still experience nighttime wetting.  The number drops to one percent by puberty.

2. Behavior modification is the second alternative. Some older children who can’t control urination at night can benefit from using a home remedy such as a bladder alarm. The devices, which make a ringing sound to awaken the child at the first sign of wetness, are available for around $100.

3.  Medication is another alternative.  New research indicates sleep-wetting may result from the inherited lack of a hormone which is most active at night and normally helps keep the bladder from filling up.  Dr. Kennedy says the prescription nasal spray desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) appears to be the most promising medication for simple sleep-wetness.
One of the most important things that parents can do to help a child who wets the bed is to reassure them that the problem is medical and is not their fault.  In very rare instances, bedwetting may occur because of stress or emotional problems.