When is it normal for a child to gain bladder control?
Children gain bladder control at different ages. Although most children
are able to control their bladders by age 5 or 6, some children take longer. A
few may still wet now and then until age 10 and older. If a child is otherwise
healthy, has never been dry, but seems to have more dry nights as he or she
gets older, the bed-wetting most likely does not have a medical cause.
Exams and tests rarely show a physical cause for bed-wetting.
What can an exam for possible causes of bed-wetting show?
The health professional will examine the child and ask
questions about the bed-wetting. A careful
medical history and
physical exam usually are all that is needed to
reassure you and the child that there is nothing physically wrong. The health
professional may be able to help you identify possible sources of stress that
may be contributing to the child's wetting.
urinary tract infection can cause accidental wetting,
especially if a child who has been dry starts to wet again (secondary
enuresis). Urine tests commonly are done to help diagnose a possible
If there is a
medical reason for a child's wetting, there usually
are signs other than bed-wetting. These signs, such as an abnormal urine
stream, can often be found with a physical exam. In rare cases, the health
professional may notice something unusual about the child's urine stream
(spraying, stops and starts), and he or she may suggest some tests. Structural
problems in the urinary tract are rarely the cause of accidental
What new problems could develop if my child has tests?
The history and physical exam for bed-wetting may be stressful for your
child and may make him or her anxious about wetting the bed. Furthermore, if
the exam doesn't reveal a problem (which is most likely the case), your child
may feel ashamed or guilty. Consider the effects of taking your child to a
health professional as you make your decision-your child may feel that there is
something wrong with him or her or feel responsible for the bed-wetting.
Reassure your child that there is nothing to be ashamed of and
that it is normal for some children to take longer to gain bladder control than
What are the risks of not having my child tested?
There is very little risk to not having your child evaluated for possible
causes of the bed-wetting. You and your health professional may agree to wait a
few months and see whether your child begins to gain better bladder control and
have more dry nights. If things don't go as you expect, you can discuss having
your child evaluated at that point.
If you need more information, see the topic