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Widely Used Drug Successful in Long Term for Bed-Wetting

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Comparatively, the Stockholm study found that only nine of 39 patients remained dry after being tapered off the drug at the end of the yearlong study.

Husmann says the best results found at the Mayo Clinic involved combining desmopressin with behavioral treatment using nighttime alarms to awaken children when urination has begun.

"This has by far shown the best results, but you have to stress [to the parents] there's about a minimum of three weeks before the alarm works," he says. During the initial period where children are learning to respond to the need to urinate, desmopressin can lower the episodes to make it easier for families to complete the program.

Husmann found that after six months, 56% of patients remained dry after use of the alarm was stopped.

According to Shelly Morris, director of the Enuresis Treatment Centers in Farmingham, Mich., sleep disorders can often be an underlying cause of nighttime incontinence.

"People sleep so deeply the brain and the bladder don't communicate," she says. "People can outgrow bed-wetting, but they can't outgrow a sleep disorder. It's important to determine if that [or anything else] is the cause before simple drug therapy is undertaken."

Husmann cautions that definitive enuresis should not be diagnosed until a child is between four and five years old. He says by age five, 85% of children will have outgrown the problem by achieving voluntary control of the bladder.

The Stockholm study was supported by Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

Vital Information:

  • Desmopressin is the most widely used treatment for nighttime bed-wetting, and the drug maintains its effectiveness over a one-year period, according to a new study.
  • The drug is best used for when children are sleeping away from home or in conjunction with a behavioral treatment that uses alarms, because children do not remain dry once weaned from the drug.
  • By age 5, about 85% of children will outgrow the problem of nighttime bed-wetting.
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