The untold impact of childhood bedwetting in later life

The untold impact of childhood bedwetting in later life
September 2, 2011

The untold impact of childhood bedwetting in later life

Glasgow, Switzerland – 2 September 2011 –

New data, presented today at the International Continence Society (ICS) congress in Glasgow1, suggest that bedwetting in children could be an indicator of future nocturia, the medical term for the complaint of needing to wake one or more times to pass urine at night, and bedwetting in adulthood.

The new survey conducted by a German study group, set out to establish the extent to which there is a relationship between nocturia and a history of childhood bedwetting.

Questionnaires were answered by 1,201 adult subjects, and grouped according to those currently experiencing nocturia (53.4%), those reporting current symptoms of bedwetting (18.1%), and a control group (28.5%).

In comparison with the control group, it was demonstrated that bedwetting in childhood was a strong indicator for future bedwetting in adults (p<0.0001; odds ratio 9.841). Bedwetting in children was also demonstrated to be an indicator for symptoms of nocturia in later life (p=0.0747; odds ratio 1.351).

These results reinforce calls for the prompt and targeted treatment of bedwetting in children, not only to reduce the number of patients who continue bedwetting into adulthood, but also the number of people who go on to develop nocturia in later life.

Bedwetting adversely affects children’s general well-being and quality of life and, if left untreated, can persist into adulthood. Without treatment at least one in ten children will wet the bed for life.2 Indeed, these new results suggest as many as 18% may continue bedwetting into their adult life.1

Not treating bedwetting can also have a negative impact on a child’s mental health and lead to troubled social development.3

Across Europe, it is estimated that more than five million children wet the bed.4
In the UK, it is the most common chronic condition in children after asthma, affecting more than half a million five to 16 year-olds.5 As such, today’s data presents a stark warning about the potential for the condition to progress into adulthood, manifesting itself as either continued adult bedwetting or nocturia.

The importance of these findings are reinforced by additional research, also presented at this year’s ICS meeting. The Boston Area Community Health Survey questioned 5,503 adults, aiming to investigate the impact of nocturia on quality of life.6

Worryingly, the study revealed the condition to have a comparable impact to other chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and arthritis. It also suggests the impact of repeated night time trips to the toilet significantly increases the likelihood of patients experiencing depression, especially among younger men and women.

“As many parents prepare for their children to go back to school after the summer holidays, bedwetting is often front of mind. It’s really important to remember that in most cases it is a treatable medical condition and that it’s not your child’s fault. The first step to helping your child and preventing future problems is to talk to your child’s clinician about the problem,” said Dr. Daniela Marschall-Kehrel, German Enuresis Academy. “As this data shows, it is really important to seek treatment – both with regards to a child’s general well-being but also with an eye on reducing future health issues in later life”.

Bedwetting is the involuntary release of urine during sleep, occurring in children over the age of five and in the absence of any central nervous system defect.7 It is a common condition with similar prevalence rates worldwide.7

Bedwetting is more common in boys than girls and, if untreated, 16% of all seven year-olds will still be affected.7 A misconception is that children will grow out of bedwetting but there is adult data to the contrary. Studies from Hong Kong indicate that 2.5% up to age 40 are still suffering from the disease, of which over 50% are having bedwetting three times or more every week.8 Today’s data add to the growing evidence base underlining the importance of treating bedwetting.1

Many parents lack awareness and understanding of bedwetting despite it being a chronic medical condition. Almost half of parents ignore the problem, whilst nearly a third delay action until the child is wetting the bed at least five times a week.9 Furthermore, 80% mistakenly believe stress and worry are the major causes of child bedwetting.9

The reality is that, in the majority of cases, bedwetting is a disease which can be treated effectively and permanently.

– ENDS –

About Ferring Pharmaceuticals

Headquartered in Switzerland, Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group active in global markets. The company identifies, develops and markets innovative products in the areas of reproductive health, urology, gastroenterology and endocrinology. Ferring has its own operating subsidiaries in 50 countries and markets its products in more than 70 countries.

To learn more about Ferring or its products please visit

For more information, please contact

Jim Baxter
Tonic Life Communications
+44 7900 605 652

Laura Craggs
Tonic Life Communications
+44 207 798 9260

Patrick Gorman
Ferring Pharmaceuticals
+41 (0) 58 301 00 53


  1. Nykturie. Are today’s nocturia patients the former bedwetters? An internet based national epidemiological survey, ICS 2011, Abstract (ABSTRACT NUMBER 241)
  2. Hjälmås K. Pathophysiology and impact of nocturnal enuresis. Acta Paediatr. 1997 Sep;86(9):919-22.
  3. Schulpen TW. The burden of nocturnal enuresis. Acta Paediatr. 1997 Sep;86(9):981-4.
  4. Date Accessed 18th August 2011
  5. ERIC 2001. A compilation from the Europa World Year Book 1998 using the statistics from surveys in Great Britain, Holland, new Zealand and Ireland (Butler 1998)
  6. ICS Abstract 543. Nocturia and Quality of Life. Results from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey. September 2011.
  7. Butler et al. Alspac, 2005, BJU; 96: 404-410
  8. Yeung CK, Sreedhar B, Sihoe JD, Sit FK, Lau J. Differences in characteristics of nocturnal enuresis between children and adolescents: a critical appraisal from a large epidemiological study. BJU Int 2006; 97(5):1069-1073.
  9. BRMB International Survey, 2002

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