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HEALTH REPORT - Childhood Bed-Wetting: Some Advice for Parents

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

We continue the first in a new series of reports from time to time on raising children. Today we discuss some ways to help bed-wetters stay dry all night long.

First of all, health experts say bed-wetting should be treated with understanding. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says children do not wet the bed to upset their parents.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health say the young people who do it are usually physically and emotionally normal. They say the causes of bed-wetting are not known. But they think most cases probably result from a mix of things including slower physical development. Often there is a strong family history of bed-wetting.

The good news is that most children grow out of it over time. So, until that happens, here are some steps that might help.

First, consider a limit on the amount of liquid a child drinks before bedtime. Also, make sure children use the bathroom right before bed -- an empty bladder at bedtime should help.

Some parents wake their children at night to use the bathroom. Others set a timer to sound, so children wake up on their own.

The Mayo Clinic says even going to bed thirty minutes earlier can help some children stop wetting the bed.

If children do have an accident at night, the experts at the clinic say parents should let them help clean up. For example, children could rinse out their wet nightclothes. The Mayo Clinic says taking responsibility may help the bed-wetter feel a sense of control over the situation.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics has a warning about such advice. It says having to clean up may seen like punishment if other children in the family do not have similar duties.

The academy advises families to establish a "no teasing" rule. Bed-wetters usually feel shame enough without having other children make fun of them.

Some parents put a plastic cover on the bed, then a cloth sheet, followed by an additional set of plastic and cloth sheets. This way, it is easy to remove wet coverings and have a dry set ready.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the first thing a parent should do about bed-wetting is talk to their child's doctor. When nothing else works, doctors sometimes give medicines to reduce urine production, or antidepressant drugs or both.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report. You can find the first part of our report on bed-wetting at www.unsv.com. I'm Barbara Klein.

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