Warning: MiraLax Might Have Scary Side Effects for Kids

Mar 1, 2017 at 12:31 p.m. ET
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Could the popular over-the-counter constipation laxative MiraLax come with some frightening side effects? Some parents think so. Controversy over the drug started when Philadelphia mom Jeanie Ward reportedly gave her 3-year-old the drug and noticed major changes in her personality.

"Near psychiatric events with paranoia, mood swings, aggression, rage," described Ward.

The drug (with the active ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350) is not meant for kids under 17, but doctors sometimes recommend it anyway — especially when diet changes don't relieve the constipation.

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The Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania has been studying the issue and so far has found "167 cases of adverse side effects in children who took the laxative, including 37 kids who displayed neurological or psychiatric symptoms." And there's more. In 2008, the FDA found that MiraLax powder contained "small amounts of the same toxic ingredients found in antifreeze."

Toxic ingredients? In laxative medicine?! But one expert says that "ownership of the drug has since changed hands and follow-up screenings have not revealed the chemicals."

As for side effects, the FDA has said there is not enough data to link MiraLax to serious neuropsychiatric issues in children, but has funded research to look into the use of laxative products in children.

Without a warning from the FDA, parents are taking action themselves, starting a Facebook page to educate other parents about the potentially scary side effects of this drug. There are already more than 15,000 members.

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Bayer (the company that now owns MiraLax) has said the product is intended to be used once daily by adults, saying the company is "committed to ensuring the product meets all specifications for quality.”

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