Miralax isn’t approved for use in children under 17 and it isn’t approved for use for more than 7 days for anyone, child or adult. If your doctor is prescribing it for your child, he or she is prescribing it off-label. Unfortunately, many doctors do prescribe Miralax for long-term use in children and many families report that their child has had severe long-term side effects from Miralax use. My son was injured by Miralax and still struggles with side effects from his time on Miralax years later.
In 2012, Empire State Consumer Project filed a petition with the FDA due to serious safety concerns of Miralax/PEG 3350 use in children off-label. In 2012, there were 2,257 adverse events that had been reported to the FDA by consumers. In 2018, that number has risen to over 22,000 reports. (Update, as of February 2019 the number of reports is over 25,000)
Carol Chittenden of the Empire State Consumer says “Off-label use of PEG 3350 in children is a dangerous practice. The neuropsychiatric events we are seeing in the tens of thousands of children whose parents have joined Parents Against Miralax represent a fraction of the harm resulting from the reckless prescribing of these adult-only drugs. One-third of the adverse events in children the FDA has analyzed were serious neuropsychiatric events. When parents report to doctors that their child’s behavior changed drastically after taking PEG 3350 laxatives, doctors need to listen.”
Reported side effects of Miralax/PEG 3350 include but are not limited to, tics, seizures, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, night terrors, slurred speech, OCD, memory loss, aggression, loss of communication, dizziness, tantrums, metabolic acidosis, sensory issues, motor skill delays, attention issues, pain, autistic-like behaviors, delayed growth and weight gain, suicidal thoughts, homicidal ideation, violent behavior, tooth decay, and kidney issues.
In 2013, the FDA issued a grant to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to fund a study to investigate whether Miralax/PEG 3350/Polyethylene Glycol is absorbed into the system of the child, causing neuropsychiatric side effects in children. At the time I am writing this article, the study hasn’t been completed. I will update when I get more information on the completion of the study.
My son struggled with constipation from birth and was diagnosed with reflux as an infant. I exclusively breastfed him, avoided milk and cruciferous veggies in my diet trying to help him. I always considered myself a pretty “crunchy” mama and tried so hard to feed him a healthy diet and help him with his constipation naturally. He was hospitalized with Salmonella at 16 months and was on Intravenous antibiotics. Shortly after his hospitalization, he was diagnosed with IgA deficiency and gluten intolerance, suspected celiac. At 4, he was diagnosed with Megacolon by the head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at a university hospital and was put on a Miralax clean out after an X-ray showed backed up stool. I was told by the doctor to give him a 1/2 cap of Miralax a day indefinitely after the initial clean out. The doctor told me that because of his Megacolon, he would need to be on Miralax for life. I questioned the safety and the doctor told me that it was “an inert sugar and completely safe for long-term use.” “Safe as water” is a phrase he used and one that members of our group report that their doctors have told them. Since the doctor was very well-respected and head of his department at a university teaching hospital, I trusted him.
Shortly after, my son was given 4X’s
My son was on a 1/2 cap of Miralax a day for about a year and a half. Over time, he started to tic, he had gut pain that would double him over prior to having a bowel movement and he had massive anxiety to the point where he had to be with me wherever I went. He went as far as sitting on the bath mat when I showered because he would panic if I was out of sight. He was having trouble potty training, and he was obsessively lining his toys up and spinning in circles. It was a slow and gradual increase in these behaviors so it wasn’t obvious what was causing them all. Then after a round of antibiotics, these behaviors escalated quickly and were really scary. His doctor got him into the local Children’s hospital for an emergency evaluation. His doctor suspected PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) or PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders
My son was still having pain before bowel movements and, even though all of the doctors had assured me that it wasn’t connected to Miralax, I thought it was. I started to wean him off of Miralax and found a new Integrative doctor. The new doctor told me that we needed to get my son off of Miralax asap and keep him off. He said to use Natural Calm Magnesium (Amazon Link) to help with constipation while we healed his gut, put him on an organic whole food diet, and take the supplement Restore (Restore4life.com) For more information on magnesium and Restore read my articles, Magnesium for Constipation and Restore for Constipation in Children and Healing the Gut.
My son was doing really well on Magnesium and Restore and his tics, anxiety, and OCD were improving by the day. Then, a family member gave him a dose of Miralax and the behaviors and tics all came back, even worse than when he was on Miralax the first time around. Furthermore, he had hallucinations, slurred speech, panic attacks, skin picking, anxiety, night terrors, tics, etc. It took months to get him back to where he was before this Miralax exposure.
Now, my son’s tics are much better and only flare up when he is stressed or comes in contact with a product with PEG in it. The Restore has helped his bowel movements to be regular, his anxiety is much improved, and he exhibits fewer of the sensory behaviors that he had while on Miralax. It has been a long road and I don’t know what the long-term ramifications will be for my son, but thankfully he is doing better over time and I will continue to work on Healing the Gut from Chronic Constipation and Laxatives.
Unfortunately, my son isn’t the only child who has experienced side effects from Miralax. Many parents agreed to let me share some of their stories of what happened to their children when they used Miralax.
Melissa Albritton’s story is very similar to mine. “My 4-year-old son started taking Miralax at age 1. We took him off of it this past September because he started having tics. Over those years, he developed night terrors, rage, OCD behaviors, sensory issues, food aversions, tummy aches, encropesis, terrible behavior overall, he would take off running in public places (I couldn’t let go of him for even a second), etc.” Terry said. “The last time he was on Miralax was for right at 3 months. All of these symptoms got worse and he was very clingy, would just break down and cry for no reason and couldn’t calm him down, peeing excessively, and then the tics started. I immediately stopped Miralax then. He would tic every few seconds at times. Some were not so noticeable but others were extremely violent looking. He was completely aware of them and it frustrated him so bad. We were referred to a neurologist and he said he didn’t believe it was Miralax and that tics are just common in boys at his age. I started giving him lemon juice in water or tea and within the second day, his tics were 98% better. I then bought Restore and his tics were 99% better for a few weeks and then they were completely gone!”
Libby Higbee shares: Around the age of 3 or 4 my son began having hard pebble-like bowel movements, so the pediatrician sent us to a gastroenterologist who prescribed 17g of MiraLAX daily. I asked about using the adult dose and she sounded just like the MiraLAX adds you see on tv. Works “naturally” by drawing water into the intestines so he can have softer
Another parent shared, “We started Miralax before age 1 and noticed subtle changes right away, but ped said impossible. After that, we watched him slip away. He was always sick and always spacey. Fast forward a few years, highly impulsive, constant fight or flight symptoms, hyperactivity, drunken behavior, late to speak and then very slurred speech (only my husband and I could understand him until age 3 or so). No sense of pragmatics in speech. On again/off again with Miralax many times and we knew Miralax use coincided with symptom increase but
Jennifer Lepsick shared her story as well. “My daughter, Andrea, is 19 now. She was about 5 when she started taking Miralax and was on it for at least 5 years on and off. She would become angry, often screaming, ripping her hair out, anxious/nervous, would attack me if I disciplined her, became depressed, cried most days, developed an “imaginary friend” whom she still has today. She also has hormonal issues that may be the result of it as well. Not sure if it would cause dyslexia either, she learned to read in kindergarten and did very well in school before she took the medicine, then struggled afterward. She was later diagnosed with ADHD. She was always a calm and collected child before taking Miralax. She now has a tough time going out places by herself or hanging out with friends. She used to be really outgoing. Much of it has calmed, she only has issues when she becomes overwhelmed or stressed. She shuts down when she is rushed. She still has her imaginary friend, but I don’t hear about him as much. She usually balls up and covers her head with her hoodie and cries when she is feeling overwhelmed and stressed. She still has dyslexia and severe anxiety.”
Christine Purpura’s child was on Miralax for about a year starting at age 3. Christine says that her child experienced many side effects including irritability, speech delays, super shy and anxious and doesn’t feel that it helped with her child having regular bowel movements.
Maggi Newel’s child only had two doses and had side effects from those doses. “She had horrible night terrors, totally out of character both nights. I knew before reading anything about it that it was the Miralax. I stopped immediately. I question if erratic behavior and outbursts continued for months after, but no telling for sure. Things like hitting herself if verbally scolded on two occasions in the couple months after. Though it’s about 6 months later now and those behaviors have lessened dramatically if not stopped
Sandy Arguijo’s grandson was only on it for a week when he was two. He developed a nervous tic and aggression. Thankfully, the tic and aggression went away shortly after stopping Miralax.
Kim Wright’s son, Larson, was 10 1/2 months when he started Miralax and was on it for a year. Kim says “He didn’t talk, didn’t want to be cuddled like my other children at this age. Rocked back and forth and did some hand moving. Touched things in a strange way. Wouldn’t eat items of strange texture ( ice cream jello, pudding, mashed potatoes) He had fits about removing hats, coats or shoes and socks. He jumped non stop. He was on an adult dose for a year. I took him off and within 3 to 4 months, he woke up like a new child. This still is so strange the change he had. He still jumps and has some little quirks but talks very well.”
Jess Cox shares “I don’t even remember how young he was when we started (little) but we are almost 5 now and been off for almost a year. Side effects were mostly aggressive rage behavior and
Tiffany McCarty’s daughter was on Miralax from 2 yrs old in 2012. Tiffany said “She had incontinence issues the entire time she was on it, terrible mood swings (screaming, breaking things). She would try to beat up her twin sister. She would go into “shutdown mode” and stay in it for hours. As soon as we stopped Miralax you could tell a difference. It was a slow process because she had been on it for so long, but it was so worth it. It’s hard to read most of these stories, but you never get the real feeling until your child has issues. Then it’s a whole other world. To this day, her doctor is still trying to put her on it again “It’s the best way to get her to use the restroom regularly.” Even after all the side
Lisa Hannifin shares “My son was on it for a couple of months when he was 8 and in 3rd grade. He’s been emotionally labile with aggressive outbursts ever since. BTW – he’s 10 now.
“My daughter started at age 3..4…5…6…” said Forrest Stevens. “Intensive clean outs inpatient hospital stays with large doses given. Gave it at home as well. Rages…major defiance..autistic behavior. She was off of it around age 8. I didn’t have this group and she now has psychological damage from this medicine. She has been to many doctors..and in treatment centers for the defiant behaviors and rage. They cannot determine what is causing this and I tell them each time…Miralax has ruined my daughter now 15. It is unreal what she has endured.”
There are many safe alternatives to Miralax. Many times we hear that a child’s doctor has told the parent that Miralax is the only option for them to use with their child. Prior to Miralax being invented, doctors regularly prescribed Magnesium Citrate for their patients. I would ask your doctor if that is an option for your child.
I have also compiled a list of alternatives in this article 50+ Alternatives to Miralax for Children. This article was sourced from members of my facebook group with things that worked for their child. I invite you to join the facebook group People Against Miralax if you have more questions.
If your child has experienced any of the side effects detailed in this article, or others that you suspect are from Miralax, please Report the Side Effects your child experienced on Miralax. It is possible to Heal the Gut from Chronic Constipation and Laxatives and the side effects that your child has. My son still has some side effects but he’s doing a lot better.
If your child is on Miralax and you need help getting him or her off of Miralax, my article, How Do I Solve My Child’s Chronic Constipation? will help you form a game plan to get your child off of Miralax. Miralax, even if it was side effect free, which it is not, is still just a band-aid on the problem of constipation.
When your child is chronically or functionally constipated, it is frustrating and exhausting for both you and your child. It can also be very hard to figure out what interventions are helping to overcome their constipation and what regiment needs to be followed to help them go 1-3 times a day.
It is very helpful to track what you are giving your child and how it is working. It seems like you will remember how much magnesium or how many Chocolate Coconut Oil Poop Candies your child had last Tuesday when they had 2 great BMs, but the reality is that it is very hard to remember everything when you are stressed about your child’s constipation.
To make it easier for you to track the interventions you are using and what impact this regiment has, I want to offer you a free bowel movement tracker chart that you can download and then print off for each week. It will help keep you organized and will give you insight into what works to help you overcome your child’s constipation.
Click on this link and sign up to receive a Free Bowel Movement Tracker Chart to help you find a plan to manage your child’s constipation.
You won’t solve that problem until you Find the Root Cause of Constipation and remedy it. This is the most important work you will do to help your child. I highly recommend working with a Functional, Integrative or Holistic Doctor or Naturopath to help you with figuring out why your child is constipated. There are links to help you locate a doctor who can help you with this on my Resources page. If your pediatrician or pediatric Gastrointestinal doctor insists that Miralax is the only option and won’t help you find the root cause, it is time to look for a new doctor.
For information on