Babies who are breastfed for longer than three months are less likely to become bed-wetters, a new study suggests.
"Although this data is preliminary data, my advice [to mothers] would be to breastfeed their babies longer than three months for the developmental advantages this provides, and one of those may be protection against bed-wetting," said study author Dr Joseph G. Barone, a paediatrics expert at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
But another bed-wetting expert, Dr Howard Bennett, a Washington, DC, paediatrician, cautioned that the study findings, published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, are preliminary.
"I think it's a thought-provoking study, and it sets the stage for a further look. It is interesting to us as doctors but not quite ready for prime time," said Bennett, who wrote Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting for the American Academy of Paediatrics.
Barone, who acknowledged that the research is preliminary, explained how his team decided to study the possible link: "There have been a lot of studies done looking at general child development and breastfeeding. And those have shown that children who are breastfed have developmental advantages compared to children who are formula-fed," he said. Those gains include better vision and cognitive skills, Barone said, adding, "Bed-wetting is associated with developmental delay."
Breastfeeding significantly cut risk
Barone's team looked at 5- to 13-year-olds - 55 were or had been bed-wetters and 117 were not. The researchers asked the parents about breastfeeding history, family history of bed-wetting and other data. Among the 55 bed-wetters, 45.5 percent had been breastfed. Among children who didn't wet the bed, 81.2 percent had been breastfed.
The researchers also found that children who didn't wet the bed had been breastfed for a longer period than bed-wetters, an average of three months longer.
When the researchers categorised the children based on duration of breastfeeding, they found that breastfeeding less than three months wasn't associated with a protective effect against bed-wetting.
That finding meshes with other studies that revealed developmental advantages associated with breastfeeding longer than three months, Barone said.
An estimated 40 percent of 3-year-olds wet the bed, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics. The exact causes aren't totally understood, but experts believe that, for some children, the bladder isn't developed enough to hold urine for a full night. Other children can't yet recognize when their bladder is full and don't wake up in time to relieve themselves.
Family history also seems to play a big role, Bennett said. If two parents wet the bed as children, their child has a 77 percent chance of being a bed-wetter. If one parent did, the child has about a 43 percent chance. If neither parent did, there's only a 15 percent chance their child will have a bed-wetting problem, he said.
And Bennett noted: "It is much too early to add 'the prevention of bed-wetting' is another reason why mothers should breastfeed their babies. Because of this study, mothers should not feel guilty they did not breastfeed or breastfeed long enough." – (HealthDayNews)