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Urinary problems untreated in childhood can continue into teens

26 April 2017

Children who wet themselves are more likely to suffer bladder and bowel problems as teenagers, new research has shown.

Research into incontinence from the University of Bristol’s ‘Children of the 90s’ study shows that, if left untreated, wetting both during the day and night is associated with future problems such as lack of bladder control, wetting, an urgent need to urinate, night-waking to use the toilet, and having hard stools.

Data on urinary incontinence was provided by the parents of 8751 children between the ages of four and nine. This was compared with information that two-thirds of the participants provided about themselves at age 14.

The paper, published in the journal BMJ Open, reports that almost two-thirds of the children could control their bladder by the time they were four or five. Between the ages of four and nine, almost one in six children experienced bedwetting, one in 20 had daytime wetting, and almost 7% were wet both during the day and at night.

Those in the latter group were 23 times more likely to report bedwetting at age 14. This compares to a three-fold increase in those who only wet the bed in childhood.

And children who wet themselves during the day, but not at night, were 10 times more likely to have the same condition in adolescence, compared with children with normal bladder control. They were also more likely to report delaying going to the toilet and having hard stools. Children who were older when they achieved bladder control were also more prone to bedwetting at age 14.

Lead researcher, Dr Carol Joinson, said: ‘A “wait and see” approach is not always appropriate, and we would encourage parents, teachers and GPs to seek help.’

● Read the research at bit.ly/BMJO_incontinence

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