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Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is a common childhood condition. Bedwetting is normal in children who are under five years old, and the majority of young children will wet the bed at some stage. It affects 15% of all children, 45% of children with a parent who has also had the condition, and 75% of children with two parents who have had the condition.

Bedwetting is often caused by an overactive bladder, but it can be the result of problems with the development of the bladder. It can also be due to a neurological disorder (disorders of the brain and nervous system).

There are two types of bedwetting:

  • Primary nocturnal enuresis: persistent, involuntary bedwetting during sleep in a child who aged five or over
  • Secondary nocturnal enuresis: where bedwetting comes back after a dry period of at least six months

Secondary nocturnal enuresis is often linked to a stressful event, such as bullying at school, or the divorce of a child’s parents.

Bedwetting usually stops when the child gets older, because:

  • Their bladder capacity increases
  • They produce less urine at night
  • They learn to wake up when their bladder is full

In time, almost all children stop wetting the bed, often without treatment. Approximately 1% will continue to wet the bed into adulthood.