Bedwetting and ADHD

In the summer of 1995, Hans Eibert of the University of Copenhagen announced in the journal Nature Genetics that he had found the approximate location of the gene believed to be responsible for enuresis, or bedwetting, which affects about 8 percent of children past the age of seven.

Scientists have long known that this problem runs in families, so finding a gene is not a surprise. Unfortunately, ADHD tends to run in the same families to such an extent that doctors have been told to watch for a bedwetting child to develop symptoms of ADHD, and to be sensitive to the fact that children with ADHD may have problems with enuresis as well.

Auther Index
  1. Ornitz 1999
  2. Pelikan 1999
Ornitz 1999

Ornitz 1999

“…This study evaluates the association of this PPI [prepulse inhibition] deficit in PNE [primary nocturnal enuresis, or bed wetting] with comorbidity with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with intelligence. METHODS: Prepulse modulation of startle was studied in 96 boys with PNE and 105 nonenuretic boys using intervals of 60, 120, and 4000 msec between the onset of a 75-dB 1000-Hz tone and a 104-dB noise burst. … Those enuretic boys who also were ADHD or had higher performance IQs … showed the greatest PPI deficit. CONCLUSIONS: A common deficiency of inhibitory signal processing in the brain stem may underlie both deficient PPI and the inability to inhibit micturition [start of urinationin PNE.” Note: As we have often seen from parent reports, when diet helps a child with ADHD who also wets the bed, it helps the bed wetting, too!

Pelikan 1999

Pelikan 1999: Case study of 2 women with bladder problems

“In two women, aged 47 and 58 years, who suffered from longstanding urinary bladder complaints, various urologic treatments … had had only a partial therapeutic effect. They also suffered from allergic rhinitis and multiple arthralgia. [joint pains]… The all-round allergologic management, including dietary measures, avoidance of the relevant allergens and nasal as well as oral administration of disodium cromoglycate therapy, led to the almost complete disappearance of the urinary and other complaints….

The Diet Connection
The Diet Connection

The good news is that it is common for children to stop bedwetting once they begin the Feingold Program. Not all children are alike, of course – for some, accidental exposure to the eliminated additives results in bedwetting, while for others it seems that the salicylates are the irritant resulting in a wet bed or wet pants. For yet others, the culprit is milk.

While we have had many parent reports of the connection, there have unfortunately been only a few published studies connecting diet to enuresis.

In 1992, Egger published a study on children who suffered from either hyperactivity or migraine which had improved on a Feingold-type diet. Of the 21 children in that study who also had enuresis, 76% of them stopped or improved on the diet.

Jakobsson, in 1985, described a case of enuresis resulting from cow’s milk. Although, of course, the Feingold diet does not exclude cow’s milk, we do suggest considering it as a possible problem for those who do not respond to the diet alone.

This information is not intended to replace qualified medical care – it is always a good idea to ask your doctor to rule out bladder or kidney infections or other physical problems. Nevertheless, at the same time your children still have to eat – they might as well eat the best possible foods.