July 20, 2012 (TSR) – Parents who pressure their children to potty train before the age of three may be hurting them, according to a paediatric urologist.
Dr Steve Hodges, a professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, says that training too early can lead to more toilet accidents because the bladder may not be strong enough.
It can also lead to constipation, kidney damage and even urinary tract infections because the toddlers are hold in their bowel movements longer than they should.
‘Children under age three should not manage their own toileting habits any more than they should manage their college funds,’ Dr Hodges said to Babble.com.
Dr Hodges penned the book, It’s No Accident, to debunk myths that parents should strive to get their children out of diapers and onto toilets at earlier and earlier ages.
He says that babies need to experience ‘uninhibited voiding’, or elimination, in a way they can respond to their bodies urges in a judicious manner.
Once they fully figure that out, then parents can bring them to the bathrooms.
When parents train too early, eager to brag about their ‘Potty Prodigies,’ it can lead to devastating problems in the future.
‘Virtually all toileting problems – pee and poop accidents, bedwetting, urinary frequency, and urinary tract infections – are related to chronically holding pee or poop or both,’ he writes.
‘It’s typically the kids who trained earliest and most easily who develop the most serious problems.’
Dr Hodges, who runs a clinic, said that half his patients have toileting issues and those same children were trained before the age of three.
But the numbers aren’t just anecdotal. Physician visits for children’s constipation have quadrupled in the last decade, according to the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility.
Additionally, eight per cent of girls have suffered a urinary tract infection by the age of seven, causing one million annual visits to paediatric clinics and 14 per cent of all emergency room visits for young girls, according to Dr Eric Jones of the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
Across the country, about five million kids wet the bed, including about 20 per cent of five-year-olds, 12 per cent of six-year-olds, and 10-percent of seven-year-olds, according to the National Association for Continence.
Dr Hodges believes all these numbers are underestimates.
‘Since parents tend to believe potty problems are normal, many don’t bother bringing their kids to the doctor,’ he said. ‘The bladder needs about three or four years to grow and develop, and uninhibited voiding (read: diapers) facilitates maximum growth.’
He says parents that are too focused on ‘potty liberation’ need to give their children some breathing room.
Source: Daily Mail