What is the prevalence of overactive bladder (OAB) in children?

Updated: Apr 01, 2019
  • Author: Pamela I Ellsworth, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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The prevalence of OAB in children is difficult to determine. To date, studies have focused primarily on daytime versus nighttime incontinence and have not attempted to differentiate the type of daytime incontinence. The prevalence of daytime urinary incontinence in children has been estimated to range from 10–17%. [7]

In a population survey of 1,192 individuals aged 1.5 to 27 years, diurnal accidents occurred in 13% of children aged 4 years, 7% of children aged 5 years, 10% of children aged 6 years, and 5% of children aged 7 years. [8]

Studies performed outside the United States have demonstrated that 2-4% of 7-year-old children have daytime or combined daytime and nighttime incontinence at least once per week and that it is more common in girls than in boys. [9]

In a population-based study of children aged 4-6 years in Australia, 19.2% had at least 1 daytime wetting episode in the preceding 6 months, with 16.5% having experienced more than 1 wetting episode and only 0.7% experiencing wetting on a daily basis. [10] Up to 50.7% of children with daytime wetting have been noted to have urgency, with 79% wetting themselves at least once in a 10-day period. [11]

Urge symptoms seem to peak in children aged 6-9 years and to diminish as they approach puberty, with an assumed spontaneous resolution rate for daytime wetting of 14% per year. [12, 13]

Hellstrom et al, assessing the prevalence of urinary incontinence in 7-year-old Swedish children, found that diurnal incontinence was more common in girls (6.7%) than in boys (3.8%). [14] Wetting every week was reported in 3.1% of girls and in 2.1% of boys. Most children with diurnal incontinence had other symptoms. Urgency was reported in 4.7% of girls and in 1.3% of boys.

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