-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Constipation is often the
cause of bedwetting in children, a small, new study suggests.
Failure to diagnose constipation as the cause of bedwetting can
lead parents and children on an unnecessarily long, costly and
difficult effort to cure nighttime wetting, the Wake Forest Baptist
Medical Center researchers said.
They found that 30 children and adolescents, aged 5 to 15, who
sought treatment for bedwetting had large amounts of stool in their
rectums, even though most of them had normal bowel habits. Laxative
therapy cured 25 (83 percent) of the children of bedwetting within
The study appeared recently online in the journal
"Having too much stool in the rectum reduces bladder capacity," study author Dr. Steve Hodges, an assistant professor of urology, explained in a Wake Forest news release. "Our study showed that a large percentage of these children were cured of nighttime wetting after laxative therapy. Parents try all sorts of things to treat bedwetting -- from alarms to restricting liquids. In many children, the reason they don't work is that constipation is the problem."
The link between excess stool in the rectum (the lower five to
six inches of the intestine) and bedwetting was first reported in
1986, according to Hodges. But the finding did not lead to major
changes in clinical practice, likely because the definition of
constipation is not standardized or uniformly understood by
International Children's Continence Society guidelines recommend
that doctors ask children and their parents if the child's bowel
movements occur irregularly (less often than every other day) and
if the stool consistency is hard, Hodges said.
"These questions focus on functional constipation and cannot help identify children with rectums that are enlarged and interfering with bladder capacity," he explained. "The kind of constipation associated with bedwetting occurs when children put off going to the bathroom. This causes stool to back up and their bowels to never be fully emptied. We believe that treating this condition can cure bedwetting."
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