Incontinence in persons with Down Syndrome

Justine Niemczyk*, Alexander von Gontard, Monika Equit, David Medoff, Catharina Wagner, Leopold Curfs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AimsTo assess the rates of incontinence and associated psychological problems in children, adolescents and adults with Down Syndrome, a genetic syndrome caused by partial or complete triplication (trisomy) of chromosome 21 and characterized by typical facial features, a physical growth delay and mild or moderate intellectual disability.

MethodsThree hundred and seventeen persons with Down Syndrome (4-51 years) were recruited through a German parent support group (59.6% male, mean age 19.2 years). The Parental Questionnaire: Enuresis/Urinary Incontinence, the Incontinence Questionnaire-Pediatric Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, as well as the Developmental Behavior Checklist (DBC) for parents or for adults were filled out by parents or care-givers.

Results17.2% of the sample had nocturnal enuresis, 15.9% had daytime urinary incontinence, and 14.2% had fecal incontinence. Incontinence was present in 64.0% of young children (4-12 years), 10.3% of teens (13-17 years), 12.8% of young adults (18-30 years) and in 22.4% of older adults (>30 years). 13.6% of children and 8.4% of adults had a DBC score in the clinical range. 19.5% of children and 27.8% of adults with incontinence had behavioral problems. There was a significant association between nocturnal enuresis, daytime urinary incontinence and clinical DBC scores in adults.

ConclusionsIncontinence in Down Syndrome is mainly present in young children and increases in older adults. Behavioral comorbidity is associated with incontinence only in adults with Down Syndrome. Screening and treatment of incontinence in individuals with Down Syndrome is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1550-1556
Number of pages7
JournalNeurourology and Urodynamics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Down Syndrome
  • enuresis
  • fecal incontinence
  • psychopathology
  • urinary incontinence

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