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Children's Health

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Study: Constipation May Cause Bed-wetting

Some Kids With Bed-wetting May Have Undiagnosed, Unrecognized Constipation

Bed-wetting Expert: More Study Needed

Bed-wetting is common prior to puberty, affecting about 15% of kids. It often runs in families, and boys are more likely to wet the bed than girls.

Hodges says children evaluated for bed-wetting or urinary reflux should undergo an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound to look for stool in the rectum before they are treated with drugs or surgery.

But pediatrician and bed-wetting expert David Adam Perlstein, MD, says more research is needed to confirm the findings. Perlstein is medical director for St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y.

“This was a very small study and it is not clear if the treatment caused the children to get better or if they simply got better on their own,” he says.

He adds that many parents might also be leery of subjecting their child to repeated X-rays or ultrasound exams even though the radiation doses are low.

Perlstein says he has had a lot of success using behavioral conditioning with bed-wetting alarms to treat pediatric bed-wetting. The moisture-sensing alarms are designed to awaken the child when urination starts with the goal of training them to awaken on their own without the alarm.

He most often prescribes the drug desmopressin for special situations, such as when a child is sleeping at a friend’s house or goes away to camp.

And he recommends limiting liquids before bedtime and encouraging the child to go to the bathroom before bed.

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