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Child and Adolescent Health Service

Health A – Z


Princess Margaret Hospital

Bedwetting (Enuresis)

Happiness is a Dry Bed

About Bedwetting

Bedwetting is a common childhood problem. It is recommended to seek treatment rather than thinking ‘they will grow out of it’ – some never do! Nocturnal Enuresis is the medical term used to describe lack of bladder control at night in a person who has reached an age at which control is to be expected (by 5 years of age).

Dryness at night occurs at different ages in children. It does not depend upon special training – it is a natural development that occurs when the mechanism controlling that part of the body matures.

Bedwetting occurs in up to 18.9% of children aged 5 – 12 years with boys being more affected by a ratio of 3:2. It has a spontaneous remission rate of 14% - 15% per year with a persistence rate of enuresis in 0.5 -2 % of adults.

The International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS) classifies bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) as primary or secondary in nature. Primary nocturnal enuresis (PNE) describes never having achieved night time dryness. Secondary nocturnal enuresis refers to the onset of bedwetting after achieving night dryness for at least six months.

The children are not necessarily very heavy sleepers. While commonly described as sleeping too heavily to awaken, the wetting has nothing to do with dreaming nor are they being lazy or naughty. It is quite unconscious; from the child’s point of view it is a matter of going to bed dry and waking up wet, with no recollection of it happening.

In most children who wet the bed, there is a family history of bedwetting.

Bedwetting is a problem which can or may cause stress for both children and parents. The child may experience loss of self-esteem and/or lack of confidence. If the child is usually dry by day and passes urine normally, bedwetting is very unlikely to be the result of any bladder or kidney disease. However, if the child is ill or feverish, dribbles urine day and night or has pain, you should consult your doctor.

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Bedwetting alarms are widely used and are considered safe and the most effective method of treatment. Alarm treatment/therapy remains the gold standard for enuresis treatment worldwide. There is a higher percentage of long term cure rates with the use of alarm therapy. An Enuresis alarm and mat are used as part of an enuresis treatment programme at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children.

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Advice That Will Help

The bedwetting service at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children offers treatment to those children who suffer with nocturnal enuresis (night-time bedwetting). If a child has day-time wetting, or goes to the toilet more than 6 times per day and is “busting” to go to the toilet or bowel dysfunction like constipation (has a bowel motion (“poos”) in the toilet <4 times per week, takes a long time to have a bowel motion (“poo”) and has to push it out or leaks bowel motions (“poo”) into his underwear, then expert advice from a Paediatric Specialist should be sought.

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Advice That Won't Help

  • assuming the child will 'grow' out of it
  • restriction or limiting of fluids in the evening or before bed
  • 'lifting' your child and taking them to the toilet during the night does not help your child to achieve bladder control
  • Setting an alarm for the child to wake and toilet during the night

Help & Further Information


PMH Bedwetting and Continence Service Phone: 9340 8356
Bladder and Bowel Health WA Phone: 9386 9777
Country toll free: 1800 814 925
Pebbles - Management of bladder and bowel health issues, for children with special needs Phone: 1300 865 401 (toll free)


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