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Keywords:

  • Enuresis;
  • nocturnal;
  • diurnal;
  • epidemiology;
  • family attitudes

Objective To establish the prevalence of enuresis in 5–12-year-old Australian children, to evaluate the impact of enuresis on the children and their families and to identify common methods of managing enuresis.

Subjects and methods A self-administered questionnaire was completed voluntarily by the parents of 2292 5–12-year-old children during attendance at electoral polling booths in Sydney, Australia. The questionnaire inquired specifically after the child's age, gender and frequency of wetting.

Results From a response rate of 74%, the overall prevalence of any reported nocturnal enuresis was 18.9% and any day wetting 5.5%. The prevalence of marked nocturnal enuresis (at least weekly) and marked day wetting was 5.1% and 1.4%, respectively. Using a 10-point visual analogue scale to measure parental concern about their child's enuresis, the mean concern score was 3.1. There was a moderate but significant relationship between the frequency of enuretic episodes and the parental concern score. Of the enuretic children, 34% had consulted with a health worker. These children were 1.4 years older and wet more frequently than those enuretic children who had not sought help. The management of enuresis involved a mean of 3.9 strategies, primarily behavioural techniques administered by the family. The lowest cure rate was seen in the children who wet more frequently. Significantly more of the dry children woke spontaneously at night to void compared with the enuretic children. There was a trend towards greater spontaneous arousal in the children who wet less frequently.

Conclusion These results suggest that prevalence rates for day and night wetting in Australia are similar to those in previous studies reported from the northern hemisphere. Australian families did not report a high level of concern about enuresis, even in the older child. The problem was managed primarily within the family.