Bedwetting, or urinating while asleep in bed, is known as enuresis, and though most children grow out of it, bed-wetting can persist into adult years.
Doctors really don’t consider bedwetting a medical issue, per se, until children reach the age of 5. At that age, about 20 percent of children still have occasional issues with bed-wetting. Bed-wetting in adulthood could be caused by a medical condition and should be investigated.
Types and Causes of Bedwetting
Most children who wet the bed have primary enuresis, which means they have consistently wet the bed on occasion their whole life. About 25 percent of kids who wet the bed have secondary enuresis, which is indicated by a six- to 12-month period of dry nights before the problems begin to occur.
Usually, wetting the bed doesn’t mean that there's anything wrong with a child. It’s often simply a delay in the maturation of bladder control mechanisms. Only about 1 percent of bed-wetting is related to an underlying health condition. And in some rare instances, the child may be doing it for psychological reasons, as a way of acting out against the parents.
Because the vast majority of incidents of bed-wetting are not the child’s fault, the best thing parents can do is be comforting, supportive and understanding. Reassure the child that it's not his or her fault, and that the problem will improve with time. Remember, often the situation is as stressful for the child as it is for the parent, so it’s important to maintain composure and help the child get through this difficult part of growing up.
SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics; Urology Care Foundation.