Last September, the Food and Drug Administration awarded a grant to a team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to study potentially harmful effects of the active ingredient of Miralax (polyethylene glycol 3350), a laxative commonly prescribed to children with constipation.
UR Medicine pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Prita Mohanty shares five facts about Miralax for parents and others who care for children.
- Miralax has been found to be an effective treatment for constipation, a common childhood problem. Eighteen studies covering more than 1,600 children have suggested that polyethylene glycol preparations increase the frequency of bowel motions in constipated children compared to other medications.
- Miralax does have documented side effects, including nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and flatulence. There is no credible evidence that links Miralax use to autism.
- When prescribing medications, physicians carefully weigh the medicine’s benefits against the potential side effects. If a doctor prescribes Miralax, they have determined that the advantages to a child outweigh the potential risks.
- There is evidence suggesting that if patients use a laxative, such as Miralax, and discontinue use prematurely, then a prompt recurrence of symptoms can occur, likely disrupting the treatment. Before discontinuing use of Miralax, a parent should consult their child’s doctor.
- Further research would be helpful to investigate the optimum duration of treatment with Miralax in children with constipation.
Prita Mohanty, M.D., is a pediatric gastroenterologist at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.