Understanding bedwetting as a medical condition to help parents see past the stigma and address the issue
TORONTO, June 7, 2012 /CNW/ - Although bedwetting is one of the most common medical conditions faced by Canadian children,1 many parents resist talking about the issue - either with other parents or their doctor - due to embarrassment or not knowing their doctor can help. As a parent, you are not alone. Now is the time to "pull back the sheets" on bedwetting to understand this medical condition, how it impacts both children and families, and that help is available. And above all, to understand that bedwetting is not the fault of the child or the parent.
"For children who wet the bed regularly, the issue goes beyond experiencing night-time wet sheets and embarrassment," says Dr. Saul Greenberg, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, staff physician, Hospital for Sick Children, and community pediatrician. "In fact, nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting, can last well into teenage years, or even later, and can affect the dynamics of the family unit. Children - and their parents - may become ashamed and shy away from activities such as overnight camp, overnight school trips or sleepover parties with friends for fear of discovery."
Bedwetting is generally misunderstood as nothing more than a growing pain; something that children will eventually overcome as they age. However, for some children, if bedwetting continues beyond the age of five, it may signal a lasting issue that needs to be addressed.
- Bedwetting is a common medical condition that affects more than 500,000 Canadian children aged five and over.2
- It is twice as common in boys as in girls aged seven years or older.3
- Clinical research shows that children who wet the bed more than twice a week have a greater likelihood of continuing bedwetting into adult life.4
For some children, bedwetting becomes a humiliating and confusing experience that can leave them feeling guilty and ashamed. 5 To avoid these feelings, children who wet the bed may deny or dismiss their bedwetting. However, for children with persistent bedwetting, it is a part of their everyday lives and can lead to low self-esteem.5
The Importance of Open Dialogue: Motherhood of the Travelling Wet Sheets
Recently, a group of Ontario-based moms came together to open up discussions around bedwetting to help families realize that others with similar circumstances want to help their children overcome not only the physical, but also the emotional impact of bedwetting.*
"Many parents, like me, want to be open with our family doctor and even friends about bedwetting, but initiating the conversation is often uncomfortable," says Sarah Morgenstern, Publisher and Co-founder, SavvyMom Media, and mother who has experienced night-time bedwetting with her children. "As a mom, I know first-hand the impact bedwetting can have on families, particularly when it comes to things like planning overnight trips. At SavvyMom, we hear from moms across the country that bedwetting is a common concern. So, I encourage parents to consider talking to their doctor about this issue in order to get help for their child."
Parents should consider that:
- According to research, if a child over five years of age wets the bed more than twice a week, there is a chance he/she will suffer from this medical condition in to their late teenage years.4
- Bedwetting can lead to social isolation, embarrassment and low self-esteem, greatly impacting the child's performance in school, as well as his/her relationships with family and peers.
- These negative effects are often further reinforced in the child by the long-term stress experienced by parents, siblings and other family members.3
- Bedwetting can pose a significant barrier to achieving the psychosocial maturation and positive self-esteem that are so essential for all children.3
- Misunderstanding among parents about the causes of bedwetting can aggravate the concerns often felt by children afflicted with this disorder.3
According to Dr. Greenberg, "Understanding bedwetting as a medical condition and dealing with the situation proactively will provide the best chance of relief. Safe and effective treatments, such as DDAVP® Melt, are available to help children get past wetting the bed, minimizing the impact the condition could have if left unmanaged."
The time to pull back the sheets on bedwetting and talk openly about the condition is now. Treatment for bedwetting must be individualized according to the type and severity of symptoms. Parents should speak to their child's doctor to discuss the treatment options available. Additionally, parents are also encouraged to go online to see answers to common challenges from parents when it comes to bedwetting, answered by a pediatrician at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx0nnju2YSw&feature=related.
*About the tour
The Motherhood of the Travelling Wet Sheets tour took place over the past two weeks with a group of three Canadian mothers who hit the streets in Barrie, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Toronto and set up camp to connect with other moms and the media about bedwetting. The goal of the tour was to take the topic of bedwetting from under the covers to an open discussion with moms who have experienced it first hand with their children.
Sarah, Melina, Laura, and Minnow were accompanied by a local physician at each tour stop to speak to the medical aspects of bedwetting and treatment options available.
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1 Van Tijen, N.M., et al. Perceived stress of nocturnal enuresis in childhood. British Journal of Urology (1998), 81, Suppl. 3, 98-99.
2 Bedwetting: What's normal, what's not. C-Health. http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=3158&channel_id=2015&relation_id=13596. Accessed April 2010.
3 Wolfish, N.M. and Pham, C.. Management of nocturnal enuresis in children. http://www.cpjournal.ca/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.3821%2F1913-701X-142.2.76&ct=1#i1913-701X-142-2-76-b5. Accessed April 2010.
4 Yeung, CK et al. Differences in characteristics of nocturnal enuresis between children and adolescents: a critical appraisal from a large epidemiological study. BJU International; Vol 97:1069-1073.
5 Butler, R.J., Impact of Nocturnal Enuresis on Children and Young People. Scand J Urol Nephrol 35: 169-176, 2001.
Image with caption: "The Motherhood of the Travelling Wet Sheets tour stops at Centennial Park in Barrie, Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (Credit: Bret Teskey) (CNW Group/Ferring Pharmaceuticals)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120607_C6729_PHOTO_EN_14849.jpg
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