• adolescent;
  • monsymptomatic nocturnal enuresis;
  • self-esteem

Aim:  Childhood nocturnal enuresis (NE) and incontinence has been shown to be associated with increased behavioural problems and reduced self-esteem (SE) in Western populations. The impact on Asian children, however, is not known. This study investigates the relationship between SE and monosymptomatic NE in Malaysian children aged 6 to 16 years.

Method:  Children with wetting frequency of at least 4 out of 14 nights were recruited with controls matched for age, gender and race. SE scores were obtained using the ‘I Think I Am’ questionnaire for five domains: body image, talents and skills, psychological well-being, relationship with family and relationship with others.

Results:  A total of 126 children were recruited; 22 enuretics aged 6–9 years and their matched controls (Group1) and 41 enuretics aged 10–16 years and their matched controls (Group 2). SE scores were similar between the enuretic and controls in Group 1, whereas in Group 2, enuretics had significantly lower scores (P < 0.05) in ‘body image’, ‘relationship with others’ and total SE scores. This difference was more pronounced among girls, adolescents and those who wet more than 10/14 nights.

Conclusion:  The SE of Malaysian children with monosymptomatic NE aged 10 years and above is significantly lower than their peers. This effect is seen particularly among girls, adolescents and those with frequent wetting. In the light of these findings, the ‘wait and see’ approach by the Malaysian medical profession is no longer appropriate. Treatment should begin before the age of 10 years.