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Potty Training Before Age 2 Could Lead To Later Accidents

Every parent wants their child to succeed, especially before other children of their age, but a recent study has shown that children who begin their toilet training before the age of 2 have a far higher risk of having daytime accidents with wetting. In fact, parents who try to toilet train before this time may find that their child is three times more likely to wet their pants during the day than other children who have waited to learn about bathroom habits. This research was collected at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and was led by Dr. Steve Hodges, who is an associate professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in pediatric urology.


How The Information Came Together


This latest study was reported in the online journal of Research and Repots in Urology, and collected data from 112 kids ranging between the ages of three and ten. The group was split into two groups, one of which visited the urology department for daytime urinary emergency frequency; the other was compared to this group and seen through a general pediatric clinic with no history of wetting issues. Parents of these children were given surveys to fill out so that information could be gathered regarding the age when toilet training commenced, and when the daytime wetting began. These parents were placed into three groups of training before the age of two, between the age of two and three, and after the age of three. The most common and normal time for training has previously been considered to be between the ages of two and three, but this latest information may change that. The statistics showed that 38 children learned early, 64 were in the normal time range, and 10 were late getting trained. Of these kids, 60% of the early trainers had problems with daytime accidents and wetting, and had a 3.37 increase of wetness compared to the normal group. In this study, early trainers were also three times more likely to complain of constipation, leading Dr. Hodges and his team to believe that there was a correlation between the two. He has been quoted by Medical News Today in saying: “Early trainers are more prone to subsequent voiding dysfunction because they are more apt to "hold" their stool or urine. When children hold stool, it backs up in the rectum. The enlarged rectum presses against the bladder, reducing its capacity and causing the nerves feeding the bladder to go haywire."


As younger children tend to try and delay their urination, this can also lead to contractions of the bladder, or the reduction of capacity that a bladder has to hold pee. Bladder growth usually continues in children up to the time that they begin their toilet training as voiding in diapers is highly beneficial to the development of the bladder.


Other Findings In The Study


Dr. Hodges and his team, also found that of the ten children who were trained after the age of three, seven had problems with wetting and were also constipated, but the three who trained later and didn’t wet had no problems with constipation. These findings don’t show the same reasoning that late training might cause wetting problems, however, but it does prove the relation that constipation has to wetting accidents. The Daily Mail reports: “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.”


Parents have been blamed in the past for waiting too long for children to potty train, and that this might be what causes accidents, but with the data collected, Hodges has said that it is far more likely caused by the constipation than any other contributing factor, making it better to train from 2 and up than below the age of 2.


Faults In The Study And What This Means


The study didn’t ask about bladder capacity issues, enlarged rectums or other problems associated with wetting problems and constipation, which could have shown more in depth information on which age is most appropriate for training. Hodges is quoted by wakehealth.edu in saying: “Parents who train their children early to meet preschool deadlines, to save landfills from diapers or because they think toddlers are easier to train should know there can be serious repercussions.”


What Hodges did decide is that there is no specific age during which parents should start, and that two isn’t the magic number, but rather a number that society has deemed appropriate. Instead, he and his team suggest that children train when they aren’t constipated and when they show signs of being ready to move onto that next stage in their life. Signs that your child is constipated include large stools or small pellet like stools, and can occur even if a child is making regular bowel movements.


These findings, along with findings from other related studies show that while there are some factors that can let you know when your children are ready to potty train, setting strict deadlines on little ones will lead to more problems with bathroom usage down the road. It’s important to gage your child’s readiness on personal factors rather than on how many other children his or her age are already using the bathroom on their own. Every child develops at their own speed, and sometimes this doesn’t keep up with society’s standards of what is right.

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