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An expert in pelvic floor dysfunction offers parents advice on the causes of bladder and bowel dysfunction in toddlers and children, plus tips on how to avoid and treat these conditions with proper diet and behavior changes.
From infancy through the toddler years, wetting and soiling diapers is a normal part of growth and development in children. Just about anyone who has a young child knows when she is busy at play, she can become distracted, wanting to continue the fun and ignore the signals her body is sending, thereby not announcing that she has to void. If your child is having any of these problems after his or her toddler years, it is recommended you consult with your pediatrician to rule out any serious medical conditions. It is important to be certain that he or she is getting adequate fluid intake, especially plenty of water.
Be certain there are plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains in her diet.
At times, a bladder training program is necessary to train the pelvic muscles, bladder, and brain to conform to a new, more normal pattern of voiding behavior. Getting teachers and caregivers involved in your child’s health and healing is also important for consistency in care. Luba Starostiak, PT, OCS, is a Board Certified orthopedic specialist with a subspecialty in pelvic floor dysfunction.
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In fact, one of the leading causes of urinary incontinence in children is chronic constipation.
It is recommended that a child between the ages of 4-8 drink approximately five cups of water per day; with vigorous exercise and sports participation, more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is presently recommended that 60 minutes each of aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening exercises be performed at least several times per week. Talking with your child, explaining that she is not to blame, and that things can improve with your help along the way, will go far in building confidence.
Consulting with a physical therapist that specializes in treating pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be extremely helpful in guiding a child together with a parent in proper training techniques to improve and resolve many of these types of issues. She has more than 20 years of clinical experience and is the founder of Lotus Physical Therapy in Pomona, Rockland County, NY and is also the mom of a 6-year-old daughter. These types of issues may lead to psychological distress in the affected child having to face social pressures and acceptance in school and community. With chronic constipation, the bowel becomes distended with waste material and places undue pressure on the bladder, potentially leading to urinary leaking. Physical therapy may consist of the use of biofeedback to retrain pelvic muscles, a bowel or bladder training program, exercise programs, and stretching programs.

Parents can be distressed while trying to find a way to help their child through such a difficult period. Juices and soda that are consumed in excess are loaded with sugars and acid that can irritate the lining of the bladder, making a young bladder inflamed and sensitive. The bladder is repeatedly taught to quiet down or ignore its signals, causing the bladder to distend excessively, leading to an uncontrollable loss of urine and a wet and distressed child. Pelvic floor muscles become too tense, too weak, and too uncoordinated to relax and contract appropriately in order to close off the openings (sphincters) of the bladder and bowel to allow the child to stay clean and dry.
By this time, all of the complicated connections between the brain, spinal cord, bowel, bladder, and muscles surrounding them, in most children, have matured enough to maintain continence and allow voiding when appropriate. There is good news for many: These situations may be stemming from issues that can be relatively easy to address. These muscles need also to relax correctly in order to allow the urine or stool to pass at the appropriate time, once the urge is recognized.

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