New evidence from a genome-wide association study identifies genes and genetic variants associated with bedwetting and may lead to earlier identification of children predisposed to bedwetting and improved earlier treatment options.The results were presented by the International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS) and the European Society for Paediatric Urology (ESPU) on World Bedwetting Day (May 29).
“We have known for over a century, there has been strong evidence suggesting a genetic background for bedwetting. The risk of bedwetting is 5-7 times higher among children with a parent who suffered from bedwetting as a child, and approximately 11 times higher if both parents were bedwetters,” says Dr Søren Rittig, professor at the department of child and youth, Nephro-urologic Team, Aarhus University Hospital, in a release. Rittig together with associate professor Jane Hvarregaard Christensen, department of biomedicine, Aarhus University is responsible for this new study.
The genome-wide association study used the iPSYCH2012 nationwide population-based sample of around 80,000 Danish individuals collected to study among others ADHD and autism. Genome-wide association studies work by scanning markers across the entire genome of large numbers of people in order to find genetic variants associated with a particular disease.
Associate professor Jane Hvarregaard Christensen says, “By comparing the frequency of millions of genetic variants in thousands of DNA samples from bedwetting children we have been able to demonstrate specific genetic variants that each contribute to increase the risk of bedwetting. The genes implicated by this are known to function in deep brain areas responsible for regulation of day-night rhythms, urine production, and sleep. This supports that bedwetting is linked to physiological mechanisms rather than being caused by psychological problems.” This is an important first step to provide new insights into the biological processes leading to bedwetting.
There are at least two main reasons why children are bedwetting—a reduced bladder capacity and/or an increased urine production during night-time (polyuria). By analyzing millions of genetic variants in bedwetting children, researchers were able to point to specific genes and thereby suggest specific biological causes of bedwetting.
Rittig says, “We believe further research using the genes and genetic variants we have detected could help us identify bedwetting children earlier, determine which children would benefit from medication and tailor treatment to alleviate their condition.”