Though nobody posts on Facebook, “My kid wet the bed again,” toileting problems are rampant in our culture. Physician visits for constipation have doubled among children in the last decade or so, while hospital visits for constipation have quadrupled.
Eight percent of girls have had a urinary tract infection by age 7, accounting for one million annual visits to pediatric clinics and 14 percent of all emergency room physician encounters between young girls and ER docs.
Furthermore, about five million kids wet the bed, including about 20 percent of 5-year-olds, 12 percent of 6-year-olds, and 10-percent of 7-year-olds.
Though the data is robust, I believe these numbers are actually underestimates. Since parents tend to believe potty problems are normal, many don’t bother bringing their kids to the doctor.
Even when they do see a physician, the cause of their children’s toileting troubles often go unnoticed. That’s because most parents, and even many pediatricians, equate constipation with infrequent pooping. In reality, many constipated kids poop regularly, even multiple times a day. Large poop masses in children typically go unnoticed because looser poop oozes by and finds a way out more easily than the hard stuff, giving the impression that the child has fully eliminated.
This is what happened with Zoe Rosso, the girl who was suspended from preschool and who is now my patient. As it turned out, Zoe had a poop mass the size of a miniature Nerf basketball stuck in her rectum, which both her pediatrician and pediatric urology clinic missed because they failed to X-ray her.
Plenty of published research, including our clinic’s 2012 study published in Urology, demonstrates that when you clear up clogged kids and prevent them from holding, the accidents, UTIs, and bedwetting episodes cease. Our study simply confirmed results from a remarkable series of Canadian studies published in the 1980s. These showed convincingly that children with wetting problems were severely constipated, despite showing few or no outward signs, and that treating constipation resolved the wetting and UTIs dramatically. (Remember that by constipation we mean a rectum clogged with stool – not failing to poop regularly.)