Caryn Talty, MA
Bedwetting is common in kids with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, OCD, and some tic disorders. But might some cases have a common cause? I decided to look into it.
Several years ago, my husband and I discovered that our then four-year-old had food and environmental allergies. At the time, he was a nightly bedwetter and suffered from a chronic multifocal tic disorder (tics occurring in different locations in the body).
Our physician advised us on how to implement a special food-allergy diet. We noticed that his bedwetting issues slowly improved over the first few months on the new diet. He also began to improve behaviorally—he seemed less emotional. He was our first child, though, and we didn’t have much experience as parents yet.
When I look back to that time in our lives, I wonder: Were his bedwetting and behavioral problems connected? At the time, we saw a direct correlation between food allergies—especially corn and gluten—and occasional wetting. We were able to address it by controlling his diet. But I’ve always wondered: What was the underlying reason for our son’s food allergies? And how does food contribute to bedwetting and behavioral problems in some children?
Dr. Mensah on Causes of Bedwetting
Recently, I had a chance to speak with Albert Mensah, MD, of Mensah Medical in Warrenville, IL. He is a biochemical specialist and was trained by William J. Walsh, PhD, of the Walsh Research Institute. Dr. Mensah is familiar with the Defeat Autism Now! protocol and has worked for many years helping families treat chronic disorders through natural biomedical approaches.
I asked Dr. Mensah about bedwetting and behavioral problems in kids. He explained, “When I see a patient with bedwetting, I always ask myself: What is the causal aspect of enuresis (bedwetting)?” He said that bedwetting issues can be seen in a variety of disorders. “In only two to three percent of patients we see is there a structural challenge.”
This reminded me of my own childhood. Although I never exhibited learning disabilities or other known problems of the central nervous system, I was born with a congenital defect: bilateral to the kidney. This meant I had a tubular problem that caused chronic infections and bedwetting through age six, when I had surgery. Although rare, this is a possibility in some kids with chronic bedwetting.
As Dr. Mensah and I chatted, I became curious. I told him that although the surgery had greatly decreased my bedwetting, I still did it occasionally until I was nine. He said he wasn’t surprised. I wondered why it didn’t surprise him. I recalled that as an infant and child I was frequently on long-term, broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat my medical condition, so I asked him about that.
He said, “In our practice, we have found that in 80% of our patients with bedwetting problems, there is a yeast and fungal issue, not a bacterial one.”
I knew that the use of antibiotics can create a yeast imbalance in the body, so this made sense in my case.
The Role of Yeast in Bedwetting Problems
Dr. Mensah explained that a yeast imbalance, which is often undiagnosed and hidden, can create inflammation in the body. This prevents you from absorbing the vitamins and minerals in your diet and even the supplements you take.
When this happens, adverse reactions to foods can occur and cause a range of reactions. This may explain why, in my case, the bedwetting didn’t end with the surgery. I may have had a fungal overgrowth (such as candida) from the antibiotics I had been prescribed.
At the time of my son’s bedwetting, we were aware he had a fungal overgrowth. Now the pieces were coming together. Further, irritability is often included in a list of symptoms of fungal overgrowth. Perhaps this is why so many parents see both bedwetting and behavioral problems in this population.
I had many symptoms of fungal overgrowth through my adult years, until I implemented an anti-fungal diet and went gluten-free. But I never wet the bed past age nine. So I asked Dr. Mensah about that, too. He confirmed that bedwetting runs in families, and added that about 45 percent of nocturnal enuresis resolves around age nine.
But what about kids who are still wetting the bed up until the teen years? I’ve heard stories from many moms who have written to me about their 10-, 11-, or 12-year-olds. Some of their stories about bedwetting and behavioral problems are heartbreaking.
Dr. Mensah said that emotional maturity can play a role in how long children wet the bed. As an example, he said, “In our practice, we’ve seen that our patients diagnosed with Asperger syndrome typically wet the bed until about 13 years of age, on average. And about one to two percent of our Asperger syndrome patients might continue to have accidents until the age of 18.” He added that it can “just take longer in that subset.”
Dr. Mensah suggests that parents have their children’s urine tested to help determine the cause of the bedwetting. Does your child have a fungal overgrowth, as in 80% of cases he’s seen? If so, there are several ways to treat it. You and your physician can develop a natural and dietary approach that avoids foods that feed the yeast and that also supports a healthy internal environment. Prescription medication may be prescribed in addition to a nutritional approach.
Mensah Medical has outreach programs and seminars on biomedical approaches to a wide range of medical and behavioral issues. For more information on the clinic and programs, see www.mensahmedical.com.
On Caryn Talty: While treating her son for Tourette syndrome, Caryn learned that gluten and corn were the main triggers for his tics and behavioral problems. The success she had in treating her son’s tics led her to explore additional health issues, and she began connecting with families to help inform them of options. She is the author of a children’s book on celiac disease and manages a website, Healthy Family.