Today the Chicago Tribune ran a story about bedwetting that’s totally off the mark.
The piece quotes Dr. Hodges and mentions It’s No Accident — hooray for that! But the whole premise of our book — that constipation is the main cause of bedwetting and a major cause of daytime accidents — gets buried and dismissed as “theory,” despite the substantial research behind it.
Meanwhile, the notion that “most” bedwetting is caused by “a deep sleep pattern” gets treated as fact. This idea may be popular, but that doesn’t make it true. Oy.
Let’s start here:
Wetting issues have become an increasingly common problem, according to pediatric urologists, who say . . . a deep sleeping pattern the cause of most bed-wetting.
We agree that wetting issues have become increasingly common. But if deep sleeping is the cause of most bedwetting, are we to believe that kids today are sleeping more deeply than in the past? What would be the cause of this deep-sleeping epidemic?
As we explain in the book, constipation among kids is incredibly prevalent and on the rise, thanks to the junked-out Western diet, lack of potty-training follow-up, and misguided school policies and conditions that prime kids to hold their poop and pee.
As we also explain, parents and pediatricians frequently miss constipation because they aren’t look for the right signs. They’re focusing on regularity, yet plenty of constipated kids poop once or twice a day; that’s because poop oozes past the giant mass of poop stuck in their rectums.
The rectum simply stretches, like a squirrel’s cheeks or a snake’s belly, to accommodate the poop mass. Meanwhile, the expanded rectum squishes the bladder and causes the nerves feeding it to go haywire.
Dr. Hodges’ recent study, published in Urology and not mentioned by the Chicago Tribune, followed 30 bedwetters ages 5 to 15. Most of these kids did not have constipation symptoms, and their parents had no clue they were clogged up. It was only by X-raying the kids that Dr. Hodges could show they were stuffed with poop.
When these kids were treated with laxatives or enemas, 83 percent stopped wetting the bed within three months.
As Dr. Hodges freely admits, his study isn’t groundbreaking; it merely confirms the many published studies of Dr. Sean O’Regan and colleagues at the University of Montreal, Hôpital Sainte-Justine.
Dr. O’Regan got even more dramatic results than Dr. Hodges — for bedwetters as well as children with daytime accidents — probably because all of the children were treated with daily enemas rather than laxatives.
The news here isn’t that constipation causes bedwetting: That’s long been proven, despite what the Tribune would lead parents to believe. What parents need to know is that constipation is routinely missed.
I even missed it in my own kid. My son Ian, who was potty trained at 2, started having near-daily accidents around age 3. I was as baffled and stressed. Our preschool was understanding — in retrospect, exceedingly so. The teachers would say, “Oh, don’t worry about it; accidents are normal.”
On Dr. Hodges’ recommendation, I got Ian X-rayed. He was chock full of poop. After an enema clean-out and a week on laxatives, he stopped peeing in his pants. Several months later, he was dry overnight.
Last week, after Ian been taking laxatives for a year, I cut his dose by half. Within a few days, he had started wetting the bed again. We did another massive clean-out. He’s back to being dry.
You can’t tell me Ian’s bedwetting is caused by a “deep sleeping pattern.”
Let’s look at another line from the Tribune:
Pediatricians generally emphasize that bed-wetting can be addressed with simple tips, such as not drinking too much fluid before bedtime, and understanding.
Seriously? Every parent of a bedwetter has tried limiting fluids before bed, along with “understanding.” If these “simple tips” fixed bedwetting, would the Trib even be writing about this topic?
If a rectal poop mass is flattening your child’s bladder, making him stop drinking water at 5 p.m. isn’t going to make a bit of difference. Heck, read this question from the mom of a 6-year-old bedwetter; this mom cuts her daughter off at 4 p.m. and still the girl is drenched every morning.
It’s unfortunate the Trib overlooked the compelling research linking constipation with bedwetting. Also unfortunate: The Trib story’s headline: “Doctors caution against overreacting to kids’ wetting problems.”
Parents should be concerned. Accidents among potty-trained kids are not normal. Bedwetting after a certain point is not normal, either, and at any rate, can be fixed well before age 6. Why wait?
If it takes “overreacting” to get your child X-rayed for constipation, go ahead and overreact.