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Wetting the bed

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
Most children begin to stay dry at night around three years of age. However, bed-wetting, whose medical name is 'enuresis' (en-yoo-REE-sis), can be a problem for some children, even after they've been toilet trained. Bed-wetting isn't a disease; it's a symptom of a possible problem, either physical or emotional. Occasional accidents may occur, particularly when a child is ill or under stress. Children rarely wet on purpose, and they usually feel ashamed about the incident, so parents need to encourage children and show faith that they'll soon be able to stay dry. You can help the problem in general by not giving the child lots of water or other fluids before bedtime, especially those containing sugar, salt, or caffeine. Encourage the child to wake up during the night and go to the bathroom. More boys than girls wet their beds, and it may run in families, but it usually stops by puberty. It may sometimes be related to a sleep disorder, or it could be caused by an infection or an allergy to chemicals found in soap or bubble bath. Frequent urination is also one symptom of juvenile diabetes. In most cases, however, it's because the child's bladder control has developed slower than normal. When a child resumes bed-wetting after several months or years of dryness, it may be linked to recent fears or insecurities triggered by events such as moving to a new town, parents' separation or divorce, or the arrival of a new baby. Sometimes the child may show additional symptoms of emotional problems, such as ongoing sadness or irritability, or a change in eating or sleeping habits. If this is the case, or if the bed-wetting persists, you may want to talk with a healthcare professional to evaluate any physical or emotional problems that may be causing the bed-wetting.
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