If you are a parent who has been giving Miralax to your child thinking that it is a safe way to help with constipation, you may want to wait until the investigation of Miralax at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is finished.
According to Philly Voice, the Children’s Hospital has been given an FDA grant to study parent reports of disturbing and scary side effects possibly caused by this over the counter medication. 1 This is in response to 167 reports of adverse side effects-including neurological and psychiatric events–in children who took Miralax, received by the FDA before 2012. Moreover, the ABC 6 Action News team found more than 5 times that many adverse reports in the FDA’s records up through 2016. Those documents show that the families of 950 children have reported adverse events to the FDA after their child took Miralax, ranging from mouth ulcers to suicidal thoughts, mood swings, aggression, and seizures. 2
None of this should come as a surprise to the FDA, which added Miralax to its Adverse Event Reporting System in connection with “neuropsychiatric events” such as autism, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, back in 2011. 3
Miralax contains polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350), an industrial chemical manufactured by the Dow Chemical Company for use in wood treatments, paints, coatings, rubber, textiles, detergents, and toilet bowl cleaners. PEG 3350 can degrade into two other toxic ingredients commonly found in antifreeze, prompting the obvious question: “What is PEG 3350 doing in a medicine that is prescribed for children?” 3 Because while the label on Miralax says for use in “adults and children 17 years of age and older” and “for no more than 7 days”, many doctors prescribe it for young kids, in some cases for prolonged periods of time. 2 The Children’s Hospital study aims to determine whether PEG 3350 is safe for the human body, and especially whether it is safe for children.
Motivated by concerns about the product, over 3500 parents have joined a Facebook group called Parents Against Miralax to organize and share their negative experiences with the medication. Members of the parents’ group want an investigation into the safety of PEG 3350 in children. In addition, they have called for a recall of laxatives using PEG 3350 and a black box warning against the use of such drugs in children. 1
So what should you do? If your pediatrician suggests Miralax for your child’s constipation, tell her/him about the Children’s Hospital study, and express your concerns. Get your doctor’s opinion about the current research, or ask about an alternative. Above all else, if your child is suffering from any side effects after taking Miralax, see your doctor as soon as possible.