Children also experience urinary incontinence. While most children are fully potty trained around the age of three years old, other children can experience difficulty controlling their bladder beyond that age. For some children, getting older resolves their incontinence, while for others may experience symptoms throughout their life. Additionally, if your child experiences developmental delays or has certain medical conditions, urinary incontinence is quite common.
Conditions That Cause Childhood Incontinence
- Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a motion disorder that appears early in life. Symptoms can include muscle weakness, poor coordination and loss of sensation. Cerebral Palsy can contribute to incontinence in a plethora of ways, including the inability to notice a full bladder, bladder spasms, enuresis (nighttime incontinence), bladder leakage and frequent urination.
Constipation is a common reason for urinary incontinence and occurs when stool remains too long or moves too slowly in the colon. There is a close relationship between the muscles and nerves that control bladder functions and those that control bowel movements. In addition, the bladder and the colon are close together in the body. Large amounts of stool in the colon can put pressure on the bladder which can cause the bladder to not fill as much as it should, or cause the bladder to contract when the bladder is not supposed to contract. This large amount of stool can also cause the bladder to not empty well. All of these problems can lead to daytime wetting, nighttime wetting and urinary tract infections.
- Developmental Delays
Developmental delays, such as Down’s Syndrome, are linked to cognitive disorders that can impact a child’s ability to potty train or control urination/bowel movements. Contact a healthcare professional to learn more about ways to effectively potty train your child with a developmental delay, and to determine if your child’s incontinence is caused by their physical condition.
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), is a common condition that is often characterized by the inability to concentrate, control impulses or be in social situations. The inability to concentrate may contribute to urinary incontinence. Children with ADD/ADHD experience bladder leakage and may wet the bed because they have a lower rate of compliance when it comes to potty training and self-managing their restroom needs. They also may not notice the urge to urinate when it occurs. While children with ADD/ADHD can become continent, it can take months or sometimes years of dedicated practice.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Also referred to as PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder defined as the difficulty processing and recovering from a terrifying or incredibly stressful event. While it isn’t intimately linked with incontinence, heightened stress after a traumatic event can cause accidental leakage of the bladder or total emptying of the bladder. Children with PTSD may need incontinence supplies, along with regular therapy and medication to process their emotional and physical symptoms.
- Spina Bifida
Spina Bifida is a physical condition where the spine doesn’t properly form during fetal development, causing neural defects. Children who have Spina Bifida could experience urine leakage, inability to realize a full bladder or full emptying of the bladder. While you can consult a doctor to manage symptoms, children with severe Spina Bifida may need incontinence supplies for the entirety of their lives.
Reasons for Incontinence
There are many various reasons for incontinence, which are influenced by factors such as anatomy, varying diseases or physical and developmental disabilities. Some causes for incontinence include but are not limited to:
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Pregnancy or Childbirth
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Overactive Bladder Muscles
- Kidney or Bladder Stones
- Brain Injury or Stroke
- Nerve Disorders
- A Disability or Mobility Impairment
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or Enlarged Prostate
- Weight Gain
Types of Products:
- Briefs (Diapers) – Also known as adult diapers, briefs are disposable, protective underwear that have tab closures, making changing them more convenient.
- Pull Ups (Underwear) – Pull-ups are disposable protective underwear that are absorbent and typically have an elasticized waistband. The leg openings make it easy to pull them on or off, which works well for individuals who have mobility and want a product that resembles your typical cloth underwear.
- Inserts, Liners & Guards (Pads) – Also commonly referred to as chux, underpads are mostly used to protect furniture, from mattresses and couches to car seats and cribs. They possess a soft, absorbent layer on the top, and a liquid-proof bottom layer to soak up any leaks. Pads make day to day life easier, and are easily disposed of in the trash after use.
- Pull-Ups – Pull-ups are disposable, protective underwear that is absorbent and typically has an elasticized waistband. The leg openings make it easy to pull them on or off, which works well for older children who have mobility and want a product that resembles your typical cloth underwear.
- Diapers – Diapers (also commonly referred to as briefs), are typically the most familiar term to people when in relation to incontinence products. Diapers have tab closures, making changing them more convenient. For especially young children, children who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility, diapers with these side tabs tend to be more hygienic than pull-ups.
- Liners/Pads – Also commonly referred to as chux, underpads are mostly used to protect furniture, from mattresses and couches to car seats and cribs. They possess a soft, absorbent layer on the top, and a liquid-proof bottom layer to soak up any leaks. Pads make day to day life easier, and are easily disposed of in the trash after use.