Omega 3 may improve bed wetting

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Studies | Comments Off on Omega 3 may improve bed wetting

Omega 3 may improve bed wetting

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Bed Wetting

Most children stop wetting the bed before age 5. Many will have nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting) that persists till age 8 or 9. Most will resolve spontaneously by age 11. This problem, while not dangerous, is a considerable emotional stressor for young children who are beginning to have sleep overs with friends or extended family. Many children will hide the evidence (either taking bed clothes to the wash in the middle of the night or even hiding the sheets in the closet) not wanting to upset parents or risk getting teased by friends. 

Traditional Treatment


There are only a few drugs that are used to treat nocturnal enuresis. One is a nasal spray called desmopressin (DDAVP) an anti-diuretic hormone. The others fall into a class used to treat depression (tricyclics). Imipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant ) probably works by the anticholinergic effect. These drugs have a common side effect of causing dry mouth and thereby probably also decreasing urine production.


Bed wetting alarms can be somewhat effective but usually the wetting episodes happen in deep sleep and often kids don’t respond to the alarms (often devices that are worn in the underwear and detect moisture). Positive reinforcement (rewarding the child for not wetting the bed) tends to not be very effective in my opinion. Older children are especially motivated not to wet the bed because of the social stress that it causes and yet despite motivation they aren’t able to stop wetting the bed. Decreasing water intake at night can also be ineffective since we tend to have an increase in urine production at night despite decreased intake.


One theory of nocturnal enuresis (bed wetting) is that there is an increase in prostaglandins and these cause the kidneys to excrete more magnesium and sodium. Wherever sodium goes, water is soon to follow. Omega 3 fatty acids (from fish oil) are well known to decrease the production of prostaglandins. In our clinic we frequently use them to decrease inflammation in the body. Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in brain development (most of the brain is composed of the fat DHA, a component of fish oil) and therefore may play a role in developing the reflex that prevents urination at night.

Link to study

Primary nocturnal enuresis: omega-3 fatty acids may be of therapeutic value