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Paediatr Child Health. 1998 Mar-Apr; 3(2): 141.
PMCID: PMC2851288

Bedwetting (enuresis)

What is nocturnal enuresis?

Enuresis, or bedwetting, is a condition where a child involuntarily urinates while sleeping at an age when this would not normally happen. In most cases, bedwetting usually stops between the ages of five and six years.

Are the causes emotional?

No. If a child has always wet the bed, and has never gone more than six months with dry sleep, the cause is most likely related to deep sleep. Other reasons may be a small bladder or increased production of urine during the night.

Does it run in families?

Yes. If one parent wet the bed, the child’s chance of bedwetting is 25%. If both parents were bedwetters as children, their child’s risk is approximately 65%. Scientists have discovered a gene for enuresis.

Does enuresis always need to be treated?

Not necessarily. The most important question to ask when considering whether to treat the bedwetting is: Is the bedwetting a problem for the child?

Will my child outgrow bedwetting?

Yes. At age five years, 15% of all children wet the bed. Even without any intervention, this number declines to 2% by age 15 years.

How can I explain to my child why he or she wets the bed?

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Wanda wakes up when her bladder is full but Winston doesn’t. Winston knows that he has a problem, but he also knows that he can get help from his doctor or at an enuresis clinic.


This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

This information may be reproduced without permission and shared with patients and their families. (Reviewed by the Canadian Paediatric Society Board of Directors.)

Canadian Paediatric Society, 2204 Walkley Road, Suite 100, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 4G8 telephone 613-526-9397, fax 613-526-3332,

Articles from Paediatrics & Child Health are provided here courtesy of Oxford University Press