Bed-Wetting: Not Just for Young Kids?

Study Shows 1 in 50 Teens Admit Bed-Wetting

Medically Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on May 18, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

May 18, 2006 -- In a new study from Hong Kong, 2% of 19-year-olds reported current bed-wetting.

A total of 1,031 19-year-olds took an anonymous survey about bed-wetting. Of those 19-year-olds, 14 boys and 15 girls noted bed-wetting.

The survey, published in the May issue of the urology journal BJU International, also included younger children for a grand total of 16,512 participants aged 5-19 years, all of whom lived in Hong Kong.

The surveys were originally given to 21,000 students at 67 randomly chosen kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools in Hong Kong. More than three-quarters of the surveys were completed (nearly 79%).

The researchers included professor Chung K. Yeung, MD, MBBS, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital.

Overall, 512 participants (302 boys and 210 girls) noted current bed-wetting; that’s about 3% of the entire group. Of those who noted bed-wetting, 20% also noted daytime incontinenceincontinence.

Age Differences

Bed-wetting was most common among younger children. However, younger kids mainly noted mild bed-wetting, defined as no more than three episodes per week. While bed-wetting was less common among older children, older bed wetters experienced bed-wetting on more nights.

For instance, among 5-year-old bed wetters, about 14% reported wetting their beds seven nights per week, compared with nearly 48% of 19-year-old bed wetters.

Overall, 82% of adolescent bed wetters reported wetting their beds more than three nights per week, compared with 42% of bed wetters aged 5-10 years, the study shows.

According to the researchers, the results suggest that mild bed-wetting often fades as kids grow up, but severe bed-wetting may linger. However, the children in this survey weren’t tracked over time, so it’s not known if bed-wetting changed as they matured.

The researchers also note that severe bed-wetting may signal underlying bladder problems. Parents concerned about their kids’ frequent bed-wetting may want to consult a doctor.

The researchers write that bed-wetting “is as prevalent in Hong Kong Chinese school children as in western populations,” and that previous estimates of bed-wetting in Hong Kong kids were probably too low because of “parental indifference to the problem.”

The study doesn’t show what caused the kids’ bed-wetting or what other conditions they may have had.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Yeung, C. BJU International, May 2006; vol 97: pp 1069-1073. News release, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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