Is there a link between ADHD and bedwetting?

By Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH

When kids still wet the bed in grade school, it can be upsetting for them and their parents. It’s actually a fairly common problem for kids with ADHD. They’re about three times as likely to have bedwetting trouble than other kids. 

It’s not totally clear why. Some researchers think it’s because bedwetting and ADHD are both linked to a delay in the development of the central nervous system. 

Another possible reason is that kids with ADHD have a harder time paying attention to bodily cues. They may not wake up enough at night to realize that their bladder is full. Or they might not wake up at all when their bladder is full.

Genetics might also play a role. Bedwetting runs in families. ADHD does, too.

The good news is that bedwetting usually goes away on its own. About 10 percent of 7-year-olds wet the bed. At age 10, about 5 percent do. And at ages 12 to 14, the number falls to just 2 to 3 percent. 

Bedwetting can be hard on kids’ self-esteem. They may think it’s their fault or feel embarrassed by it. Other kids seem to not even notice the bedwetting, which can be frustrating for parents and caregivers. Keep in mind that kids can’t control when they develop the ability to stay dry.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.