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NICE issues bedwetting guidelines

Health professionals have been given new guidelines for diagnosing and managing bedwetting among children and young people.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued the guidelines, recommending that treatment should be offered when required rather than waiting until children turn seven.

NICE has designed the policy to avoid frustration for younger children and families who are ready to deal with the problem but currently have to wait to receive professional support.

Despite bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, affecting more than 500,000 British children, research indicates that only one in three families seek help. The group hopes the new guidelines will encourage more families to seek support from health professionals

The guidelines have been welcomed by the children's health charity Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC).

ERIC Director, Jenny Perez, said: "Parents who ring the ERIC Helpline often blame themselves and express frustration at their inability to resolve bedwetting.

"The new guidelines will allow parents to know what to expect from health professionals and be aware of their own role in the process of resolving and managing their child's continence problems."

She added that the guidelines would provide health professionals with a clear pathway to follow when dealing with nocturnal enuresis.

Other recommendations from NICE include:

  • Making sure the child and parent or carers know bedwetting is not the child's fault and that punishment should not be used.
  • Encouraging rewards for agreed behaviour rather than for dry nights, such as going to the toilet before sleep, taking medication or for helping to change the sheets.
  • Talking to parents or carers about the possibility of accessing support, especially if they are displaying anger or blame towards the child.
  • Addressing a child's excessive or insufficient fluid intake or abnormal toilet habits before starting bedwetting treatment.
  • Referring children who have not responded to courses of treatment with an alarm and/or desmopressin.

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