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children going through stress risk prolonged bedwetting paediatricians say
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Children going through stress risk prolonged bedwetting, paediatricians say

Child health experts say stress not only impacts children’s learning and behaviour but also exposes them to the risk of bedwetting for a long period, which might require medical intervention. The paediatricians said stress coupled with abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, could cause children who had previously attained bladder control to suddenly start bedwetting without any obvious sickness. Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that stress and anxiety can make a child wet the bed, noting that if a child suddenly starts bedwetting, parents must check the schedule of the child to ensure that he/she is not stressed out. According to the website, bedwetting, also called nighttime incontinence or nocturnal enuresis ― means passing urine without intending to while asleep. The clinic says this happens after the age at which to stay dry at night can be reasonably expected. The physicians, who spoke during interviews with PUNCH Healthwise noted that it is abnormal for children who had attained bladder control to suddenly start bedwetting without sickness, stating that such children are either going through stress or are being abused. They advised parents not to punish or abuse their children who bedwet to avoid worsening the situation. A Consultant Paediatrician, Nephrology Division at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina State, Dr Abdurrazzaq Alege, told our correspondent that stress remains the common cause of bedwetting in children. Alege pointed out that bedwetting is not a disease on its own but maybe a window to an underlying disease, noting that the condition majorly has to do with emotional imbalance. The paediatrician stated that although the age of achieving bladder control varies among children, bedwetting beyond five or seven years is a problem that requires immediate attention. Alege said, “Bedwetting could follow after witnessing a devastating event, for example, fire or road traffic accident. “It could be a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder such as sudden deprivation of loved ones. “Others could be in the form of abuse, which could be physical, emotional, sexual abuse, or even neglect. This is more common in children with secondary forms of bedwetting. “Moreover, it is associated with many complications, most especially psychosocial problems. Many factors are responsible for bedwetting in children and even adolescents. “A parent should worry when a child who has previously attained bladder control for more than half a year suddenly starts bed-wetting without any obvious sickness. One should look around the home environment, playgroup, as well as the school.” The child specialist identified loss of appetite and poor school performance as some of the signs that a child is going through stress and abuse. “Tell-tale signs could include withdrawal from activities, moody appearance, loss of appetite, or poor school performance. Where the abuse is perpetrated by the parents, it may be difficult to make a diagnosis on time. Therefore, the teacher also has a big role to play in unravelling the problems”, he added. The paediatrician said for unknown reasons, bedwetting is hereditary. “A study showed that in families where both parents bedwetted in childhood, seven out of 10 children will develop the same problem. If it is just one of the parents, four out of 10 children will be affected and only one out of 10 children will bed wet when none of the parents have a similar history. A history of bedwetting in the family or low socioeconomic level or being the first child in a family have been identified as risk factors”, he noted. Alege assured that bedwetting is curable, affirming that most cases of bedwetting resolve spontaneously without any intervention. He, however, stated, “Some affected children may have developed psychological complications during the period of bedwetting. All these have to be addressed. As a rule, active treatment is not advised until the child is above six years of age. The treatment options available vary from lifestyle modification, psychotherapy, alarm treatment, and drug therapy.” The paediatrician said it is important for parents to know that bedwetting is neither the fault of the child nor theirs. “Therefore, the parents especially need to support the child by all means. Beating or abusing the child will only worsen the problem. The aftermath of the abuse may persist even after the bedwetting resolves. “The child may develop low self-esteem, depression, and poor academic performance. Parents are strongly advised to desist from punishing or abusing children who bed wet but rather, they should provide all the necessary support to help them to overcome the problem”, he counselled. Also, a consultant paediatrician with Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre Abuja, Dr. Chukwunonso Epundu, however, said bedwetting could be hereditary without the child going through any stressful events. “Very importantly, structurally or genetically, for a child who is bedwetting, one of the parents often may have had such a problem when they were young. Such parents may not say it, but that is the simple truth. “Such parents should show understanding and address the problem in the way it was addressed in their own time, and help the child to overcome the condition without making the child feel bad. “For secondary incontinence, when the child has stopped bedwetting but suddenly starts again after about six months, something unusual must have happened. It could be a change of environment; it could also be a result of a psychological stressor, such as change of school, teachers, etc. “It could be that something happened in the child’s school that they did not discuss with their parents and is stressing them up; maybe they are overworked in the house and end up sleeping so tired and unable to wake up to visit the toilet to urinate”, he explained. In a 2017 study published in ScienceDaily, Penn State University researchers found that physical abuse was associated with decreases in children’s cognitive performance, while non-abusive forms of physical punishment were independently associated with reduced school engagement and increased peer isolation.

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