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Sleep-disordered breathing and bedwetting could go hand in hand

Filed in
  • Snoring
  • Bedwetting

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Aug 09, 2011
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Does your child have problems wetting the bed at night? Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) - or sleep apnea - could be playing a role. A recent study, conducted on 5-10 year olds, searched for the link between SDB and tonsil and adenoid swelling in children with enuresis (bedwetting). The study also examined what part natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels in the brain play in measuring how severe SDB is in children who have enuresis. BNP is an amino acid that is produced by the heart when the heart muscle cells have been stretched.

There are two types of bedwetting. A child who is a primary bed wetter has not regularly stayed dry during sleep for 6 months straight. A person who is a secondary bed wetter has stayed dry for 6 months, but then starts bedwetting at least twice a week for about 3 months.

Surveys, taken by parents with 5-10 years olds, were reviewed for signs of SDB and bedwetting. The children with SDB were clinically examined. BNP levels were calculated in 33 children with SDB who wet their beds, and also in 30 healthy children who wet their beds.

Of the children studied, about 15% had primary enuresis, and about 47 children (30%) had SDB. However, there was a lower occurrence of SDB and bedwetting when age increased. BNP levels were much higher in children who wet the bed. Thirty-three children with bedwetting problems and SDB underwent adenotonsillectomies. Twenty-nine children improved; 15 were completely cured. All of the children with enuresis and SBD who had the surgery showed a big decrease in daytime enuresis.

If you think your child may have a sleep disorder, visit an AASM accredited sleep center.

Updated Aug. 14, 2019


  1. 1 Lily Maxwell 13 Aug
    I am struck by this connection because starting around my 40s, I was told by a "significant other" that I stopped breathing multiple times during the night (a sign of sleep apnea, which life circumstances have not allowed me to get checked out), and as a child of say, four through seven years of age, I regularly wet the bed.  My mother shamed me for this by, among other things, forcing me to sleep in a crib (I have at least one photo from those days of me as a young girl in my crib), and looking back, it strikes me that there may be numerous other "behavioral" problems that children suffer that also are due to purely physiological disorders, but are punished by ignorant parents who -- as in my case -- label the child as "defiant". "Funny": after I had my tonsils and adenoids out, the bedwetting ceased ; I want to thank the researchers and author(s) of this article, for drawing these important connections that -- adequately publicized -- may save many children from being abused by ignorant parents (at least, in regard to their bedwetting).
  2. 2 Ingriid 10 Nov
    When reading this arltcie on sleep problems in children I starting wondering if my kids are having enough sleep if lack of sleep is really so important I think I am going to check on the amount they sleep more carefully