What is Bladder Dysfunction?

Bladder dysfunction is a term used for a range of problems with the way the bladder holds and releases urine. For children, there may be a problem with the way the bladder and urethra work together. A child may experience wetting accidents.

How Does the Urinary System Work?

The urinary system includes the organs that make, store and move urine out of the body. These include two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder and the urethra.

The kidneys are a pair of organs that filter waste products from the blood. Waste (urine) will then move from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called "ureters". The bladder holds urine until the body gets rid of it through the urethra. The urethra opens at the end of the penis in boys and in front of the vagina in girls.

A complex network of nerves sends signals from the bladder to the spinal cord and brain, and back, allowing the bladder to store and release urine in a controlled way.

Newborns and infants have a simple reflex that causes them to urinate with pressure on the bladder. As infants grow, several things allow them to gain control over the act of urinating. First, the bladder can simply hold more urine with age. By 2-3 years old, the child gains control over the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles and can hold back the flow of urine until they reach a toilet. As the brain matures, children gain more and more control over urinating. By 7 years old, 90 percent of children are able to stay dry while they sleep at night.