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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Children and Bathroom Breaks
June 2000

Q. Is it harmful to deny children bathroom breaks for times as long as 1:15 hours?

A. In general, it is not harmful for a child, or adult to delay going to the bathroom for an hour and 15 minutes (this includes urinating and/or defecating. The bladder is quite elastic and can accommodate some increase in urine volume storage. However, there are certain general principles, especially in females, that they should try to urinate at least about every 4 hours during the day to help reduce the risk of bladder infections (which is much more common in females than males). Also, if one has certain medical illnesses such as Diabetes, or Multiple Sclerosis, which can cause bladder spasms, it may be more difficult to wait to urinate, and this must be taken into consideration. Also, if one has Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's disease (inflammation of the bowel), it would be important to allow them to use the bathroom as needed or else fecal incontinence may occur. I'm guessing that you may be a teacher and have some children that ask to be excused during class. You may want to request students who claim they must use the bathroom during class to provide you with a note from their doctor, otherwise, for the most part, they probably could wait till between classes. I hope the above is helpful.

Ref: Bladder Health Council American Foundation for Urologic Disease: 1-800-242-2383

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