SIOUX FALLS, SD -
If your children have dealt with constipation, you're not alone. It's one of the most frequent reasons for visits to pediatric gastroenterologists' offices.
But now some groups are questioning the safety of a drug often used to treat constipation.
Oliver has plenty of energy and enjoys spending time in the sun.
"He's a big flirt. He's very laid back," mother Melanie Raap said.
But the soon-to-be two-year-old has had to deal with a problem that's not so enjoyable, constipation.
"He has spina bifida so I don't know if he can really feel when he needs to push or anything like that," Raap said.
As in many cases, doctor's told Raap to try Miralax, an odorless, tasteless laxative that can be easily put in a beverage, such as juice or water.
"We see a lot of kids with constipation in the clinic and we do use polyethylene glycol or Miralax pretty frequently," Sanford Pediatric Gastroenterologist Tonya Adamiak said.
While many children such as Oliver take Miralax, the Food and Drug Administration has actually only approved its use for adults and seven days at a time.
Some groups, such as the Empire State Consumer Project, also worry about possible side-effects from an ingredient in the drug, specifically polyethylene glycol 3350.
"They've done a number of studies in children with chronic constipation using Miralax, and the studies have shown that Miralax is safe and effective in treating chronic constipation in infants and children," Adamiak said.
Still, Adamiak says you should take steps before buying the over-the-counter medication.
"I would recommend that they talk with the physician or their doctor's office before using any over-the-counter products," Adamiak said.
Adamiak also says you should make sure your child is eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber and fluids. That's something Raap already makes a point of doing, but it's not enough.
"He ended up getting sick and we were in the hospital and they had to surgically remove quite a bit of it. They went in and checked his bowels and made sure nothing else was wrong. So it was just backed up that much," Raap said.
That is why Rap worries just as much about a fall on the playground as the possible dangers of the drug.
Adamiak also says Miralax is not a stimulant and doesn't cause people to become dependent on it.
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