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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Incontinence Due to Translocated Chromosomes



My daughter is 6 years old and has had several inconsistant problems with mostly daytime wetting and some nighttime wetting. She is a very intelligent child and has told me that she cannot tell when it happens and most of the time cannot detect once she is wet. The extent of the wetness also fluctuates from dribbles to completely soaked. I have been searching the web on childhood incontinence and came across a brief description that stated the Dutch have discovered a link between bedwetting and Chromosome 13. Before my daughter was born, I was tested, by blood, for birth defects and showed possiblity for Down Syndrome and a follow up Amniocentesis was ordered. From that test, it was found that my daughter`s 13 & 15 chromosomes were translocated. My husband`s uncle had recently discovered that he was a carrier for this problem before his daughter was born, therefore we did not request further testing since we believed it to be hereditary. The lab did further testing, without my knowledge, because they told me they needed to make sure that the translocated chromosomes were of the same length. The further testing did show that they were equal in size. My husband also had a problem with leaking when he was a child, however, he and his mother cannot remember the specific diagnosis, but he was required to wear a catheter and collection bag all the time until the problem resolved itself. I would like to know if there is any research showing a corilation between incontinence in children and translocated 13 & 15 chromosomes. If possible, I would also like to know if there are any other problems I should be aware of that could be caused by this translocation. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for your time and I sincerely appreciate any help that you can provide.


I am not aware of any association of urinary incontinence and a balanced translocation carrier and am unable to find any literature that would support an association.

As you may be aware, chromosome translocations occurs when two pieces of chromosomes break off and switch places with each other. If all the chromosomal material is present, just rearranged - in your daughter case one of her chromosome 13's is stuck on to one of her chromosome 15's - this it is called a balanced translocation. It is estimated that about 1 in 1000 people is a carrier for a balanced Robertsonian translocation.

A person with a balanced chromosomal translocation should have no health problems related to the balanced translocation since all the chromosomal material needed is present and functioning properly. There is no way to tell whether or not a person has one of these rearrangements unless you look at the blood to examine the chromosomes.

There can be many reasons for urinary incontinence and it can "run in families". I would recommend that you talk to your daughter's pediatrician about her incontinence if you have not already done so.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University