The Genetic Factor
There is overall agreement among researchers that bedwetting has a clear hereditary element. Among parents of children with bedwetting who came to our clinics, 75% reported that one or both parents or siblings wet the bed in childhood. When we examine the second genetic circle (grandparents, uncles of first degree, nephews), we find that more than 90% have a history of bedwetting.
One shouldn’t conclude, however, that this genetic factor indicates the existence of a medical problem. Bedwetting is characterized by being unable to recognize the signal that is being sent from the filled bladder to the brain during sleep. As a result, instead of contracting the sphincter muscle, the child relaxes the bladder and starts to urinate. This may be corrected by learning preventive measures.
Occasionally, I’m asked by parents, “If there is a genetic factor, how can treatment help?” My answer is that there is no relationship between the genetic factor and the treatment’s chances of success. The purpose of the treatment is to correct the malfunction in the reflex system.
Some parents who had bedwetting problems until adolescence and outgrew the issue with no treatment avoid seeking treatment for their enuretic child. They assume that when the child reaches adolescence, the child will also outgrow bedwetting. There is no basis for this assumption; unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a child will stop wetting the bed with no treatment. Moreover, even if the parents could be assured that the child will outgrow bedwetting at adolescence, there is no justification to let the child suffer from bedwetting during childhood. Bedwetting affects a child’s quality of life, and timely treatment improves the quality of life.